Forum · Racial and Ethnic Differences in Sleep Disorders-Need for Better Screening Across Our Population

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[-] SusanR +0 points · about 2 years ago

My colleagues and I just published an article in this month's journal Sleep reporting data from the Multiethic Study of Atherosclerosis (Sleep. 2015 Jun 1;38(6):877-88. doi: 10.5665/sleep.4732.). This is a study of over 2,000 people from 6 cities across the U.S., and which specifically included African Americans, Hispanics, Chinese and European Americans. Knowing that different group experiences different health outcomes (for example, stroke and diabetes risk is very high among African Americans) we sought to see how sleep disorders also varied by ethnic and racial group.

First, we found a very high prevalence of undiagnosed sleep disturbances in middle-aged and older adults: 34% of middle aged and older individuals from the community (not referred for a sleep problem) had moderate or severe sleep apnea; 23% had insomnia; 14% repored excessive sleepiness; and 31% routinely got less than 6 hours of sleep per night (7 to 8 hours is recommended).

Furthermore, short sleep duration (< 6 hrs per night) was almost 5 time more prevalent in African Americans than in whites. Chinese and Hispanics had more sleep apnea than whites.

Since sleep disorders contribute to risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes, this study highlights the need to better screen for undiagnosed sleep apnea in middle-aged and older adults, and ensure that these strategies reach all populations. The study also supports the need to address the stress and social and environmental factors that may be contributing to the curtailed sleep of African Americans and others.

How can we as a community improve recognition and treatment?

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