Normal sleep in African-Americans and Caucasian-Americans: A meta-analysis

Sleep Med. 2011 Mar;12(3):209-14. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2010.12.010. Epub 2011 Feb 12.


Objective: This meta-analysis was designed to estimate the average magnitude of ethnic differences between African-Americans and Caucasian-Americans in normal sleep and to identify moderators of these differences.

Methods: Included studies had to have (1) sufficient information to estimate the difference between African-Americans and Caucasian-Americans on measures of subjective or objective sleep, (2) adult samples, and (3) samples of normal sleepers. Fourteen studies representing 1010 African-Americans and 3156 Caucasian-Americans aged 18years and older met these criteria.

Results: Significant ethnic differences were found, with mean effect sizes ranging from -.23 to .57. African-Americans had poorer sleep continuity and duration, less slow wave sleep, and a greater proportion of stage 2 sleep. Differences in sleep continuity and duration variables were moderated by several biopsychosocial factors, whereas sleep architecture differences were not influenced by any examined moderating factor.

Conclusions: African-Americans slept worse objectively and subjectively than Caucasian-Americans. Sleep continuity and duration were moderated by biopsychosocial factors whereas sleep architecture was not. Implications and future research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / ethnology*
  • Sleep*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*