The sleep of African Americans: a comparative review

Behav Sleep Med. 2006;4(1):29-44. doi: 10.1207/s15402010bsm0401_3.


Researchers have not thoroughly assessed the sleep of African Americans (AAs) despite the recent increased attention to ethnic research. This article reviews the sleep and epidemiological literatures to assess AA sleep. Although the limited data were sometimes inconsistent, they suggest that AAs sleep worse than Caucasian Americans. AAs take longer to fall asleep, report poorer sleep quality, have more light and less deep sleep, and nap more often and longer. AAs have a higher prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing and exhibit more risk factors for poor sleep. These differences are concentrated in young- and middle-age adults. There are no sleep disorders treatment data for AAs. These data support further research into ethnic differences in both normal and disturbed sleep.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blacks / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / ethnology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / ethnology*
  • Sleep*
  • Social Environment
  • Whites / psychology*