Study objectives: Racial and ethnic differences in sleep duration are not well understood. Research shows that short (< or =6 hours) and long (> or =9 hours) sleepers have higher mortality risks than mid-range sleepers. We investigated whether sleep duration varies by racial and ethnic characteristics and if some of these associations may be explained by residential context.
Design: Cross-sectional National Health Interview Survey.
Setting: Non-institutionalized adults living in the United States in 1990.
Participants: 32,749 people aged 18 years or older.
Measurement and results: We estimate a multinomial logistic regression that predicts short, mid-range, and long sleep duration; including covariates for race/ethnicity, among other demographic, health, and neighborhood characteristics. Black respondents had an increased risk of being short and long sleepers (OR=1.41, 95% CI=1.27-1.57 and OR=1.62, 95% CI=1.40-1.88, respectively) relative to white respondents. Hispanics (excluding Mexican Americans) and non-Hispanic "Others" were also associated with increased risk of short sleeping (OR=1.26, 95% CI= 1.07-1.49 and OR=1.35, 95% CI= 1.11-1.64, respectively). Living in an inner city was associated with increased risk of short sleeping and reduced risk of long sleeping, compared to non-urban areas. Some of the higher risk of short sleeping among blacks can be explained by higher prevalence of blacks living in the inner city.
Conclusions: Blacks and other racial minorities are more likely to have sleep durations that are associated with increased mortality. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that unhealthy sleep patterns among minorities may contribute to health differentials.