Race and financial strain are independent correlates of sleep in midlife women: the SWAN sleep study

Sleep. 2009 Jan;32(1):73-82.


Study objectives: To examine racial differences in sleep in a large cohort of midlife women and to evaluate whether indices of socioeconomic status (SES) are associated with racial differences in sleep.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Participants' homes.

Participants: Caucasian (n=171), African American (n=138) and Chinese women (n=59).

Interventions: None.

Measurements: Sleep quality was assessed with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Polysomnographically assessed sleep duration, continuity, architecture, and NREM electroencephalograhic (EEG) power were calculated over multiple nights. Sleep disordered breathing and periodic leg movements were measured on a separate night. Linear regression analysis was used to model the independent and synergistic effects of race and SES on sleep after adjusting for other factors that impact sleep in midlife women. Indices of SES were self-reported educational attainment and financial strain.

Results: Sleep was worse in African American women than Caucasian participants as measured by self-report, visual sleep stage scoring, and NREM EEG power. Slow wave sleep differences were also observed between Chinese and Caucasian participants. Racial differences persisted after adjustment for indices of SES. Although educational attainment was unrelated to sleep, financial strain was associated with decreased sleep quality and lower sleep efficiency. Financial strain-by-race interactions were not statistically significant, suggesting that financial strain has additive effects on sleep, independent of race.

Conclusions: Independent relationships between race and financial strain with sleep were observed despite statistical adjustment for other factors that might account for these relationships. Results do not suggest that assessed indices of SES moderate the race-sleep relationship, perhaps due to too few women of low SES in the study.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Asian / statistics & numerical data*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory
  • Nocturnal Myoclonus Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Nocturnal Myoclonus Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Nocturnal Myoclonus Syndrome / ethnology*
  • Polysomnography*
  • Risk Factors
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / ethnology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / ethnology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*