I have been writing more than the usual number of articles concerning sleep in the last several weeks, but factors influencing our sleep habits and problems have taken up recent literature. A recent doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh observed that “Race is emerging as a significant moderator in the relationship between sleep and health outcomes”. This comment was based on follow-up data from a 10-15 year sleep research study. Black women in the study were more likely to have poor sleep quality, and it also showed that middle-aged black women were at higher risk for sleep problems than their white counterparts.
The issues of weight and body structure were analyzed. It was found that body mass index, waist circumference and the waist to hip ratio all had stronger links to sleep health in black women than in those of European descent. The problems in sleep health in the black community may be multifactorial. One thought may be that sleep health may reflect a general health disparity or problem. We know that race is associated with other health disparities and this may simply be one. There was no data on the general health care for the study group.
Clearly sleep problems, other than just sleep apnea, affect a large portion of the US population. While we are all Americans we need to acknowledge that our ancestry may predispose us to certain risk factors. The risks imposed by race need to be factored into any patient assessment.