Background and purpose: This study was designed to assess potential relationships of race and socioeconomic status (SES) to bedtime behavior from a community sample of 2- to 7-year-old children.
Patients and methods: A previously validated sleep questionnaire was administered to parents of children enrolled in the Jefferson County, Kentucky school system. The sleep behavior of African-American (n=973) and Caucasian (n=2398) children was analyzed. Median annual income of residential zip codes was used as a proxy for SES.
Results: Mean age was 4.8+/-1.1 years. Two composite 'sleep behavior scores' were generated related to excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep-related behavior. Children in the lower SES group had significantly more impaired 'sleep behavior scores' than those in the higher SES group, regardless of race or age. African-American children had later bedtimes than Caucasian children with similar rise times, resulting in significantly shorter sleep duration and more excessive daytime sleepiness, independent of SES and age.
Conclusions: Cultural variables impact sleep-related behavior in children. Race and SES have independent relationships with sleep behavior. Independent of SES, African-American children sleep less due to later bedtimes. SES does play a role, however, in parentally reported sleep-related behavior problems. Thus, cultural variables such as race and SES are important modifiers of sleep behaviors in children and should be addressed in sleep education programs.