Self-Reported Sleep in Older African Americans and White Americans

Ethn Dis. 2016 Oct 20;26(4):521-528. doi: 10.18865/ed.26.4.521.


Objective: Assess the relationship of self-reported sleep quality and possible sleep disorders with disability in a racially diverse sample of community-dwelling older adults.

Methods: Participants included 943 non-demented older African Americans (n=452) and Whites (n=491) from two cohort studies, the Minority Aging Research Study (MARS) and the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP). Participants completed a 32-item questionnaire assessing sleep quality and the possible presence of three sleep disorders (sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome [RLS] and REM behavior disorder [RBD]). Disability was assessed with scales that quantified the ability to perform instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), basic activities of daily living (ADL), and physical mobility activities.

Results: More than half of the participants reported impaired sleep quality (51%), or the possible presence of at least one sleep disorder (57%; sleep apnea 44%, RLS 25% and RBD 7%). Sleep quality was rated poorer in African Americans, those with advancing age and fewer years of education (all P<.05). Only sleep apnea risk was associated with age (P<.02). In logistic regression models adjusted for age, sex, years of education, and race, both sleep quality and disorders were associated with disability (sleep quality with mobility disability (P<.001), sleep apnea risk with mobility disability and IADL disability (all P<.001) and RLS symptoms with mobility disability (P<.01).

Conclusions: Results indicate that self-assessed impaired sleep is common in old age and is associated with disability.

Keywords: African Americans; Disability; REM Behavior Disorder; Restless Leg Syndrome; Sleep Apnea; Sleep Quality.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disabled Persons
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk
  • Self Report*
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / ethnology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*