Researchers have long known that people with short sleep duration times—six hours or less—and long sleep duration times—9 hours or more—are at higher mortality risk than mid-range sleepers. Now it appears that sleep duration breaks down along racial and ethnic lines, says a study in the September 1 issue of SLEEP.

In a joint study of 32,749 people aged 18 years or older, researchers Lauren Hale, PhD, State University of New York, and Phuong Do, PhD, University of Michigan, determined that black respondents had an increased risk of being short and long sleepers compared to white respondents. Conversely, Hispanics (excluding Mexican Americans) and non-Hispanic “others” tended to fall in the category of short sleep duration.

Additionally, an urban living context was associated with increased risk of short sleeping and reduced risk of long sleeping, compared to non-urban areas. Some of the black respondents at higher risk for short sleep duration can be explained by higher prevalence of blacks living in the inner city.

The results are consistent with the hypothesis that unhealthy sleep patterns among blacks and other minorities may contribute to certain disparities in health.

To view the abstract, click here.