Chronic Sleep Deprivation Threatens African-Americans' Health

Studies show that Blacks are getting less rest than other groups and suffering poorer health as a result.

Posted: 12/21/2011 05:44 PM EST
diabetes, sleeplessness, insomnia, high blood pressure, hypertension, african american health issue

As much as we know that sleep important, too many of us are not getting as much as we should each night.

In a recent eye-opening article in the St. Louis American, Consuelo H. Wilkins, M.D., writes in depth about the lack of sleep that African-Americans are getting.


According to Wilkins, past studies have shown that Blacks are more likely to sleep fewer hours than other people from different races and ethnicities, and Blacks are more likely to have to take medications to help them sleep better.

Additionally, last year, the National Sleep Foundation conducted a study and found the following:


•    Blacks report getting an average of 34 minutes less sleep on a work night/weeknight than Asians and 38 minutes less than whites.
•    Seventeen percent of African-Americans are more likely than whites (9 percent) and Hispanics (13 percent) to do job-related work in the hour before bed.
•    Blacks reported losing sleep every night over financial and employment concerns at a higher rate than whites.
•    African-Americans (19 percent) say their sleep is disturbed every night or almost every night by at least one of these concerns.
•    Blacks said they need less sleep in comparison to whites, Hispanics and Asians to perform at their best during the day.

What’s important to note is that not getting enough sleep is not a game — it can have long-lasting effects on our health.

It’s associated with serious health issues, including chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease (all of which can lead to a shorter life expectancy). Lack of sleep can also alter your memory, cause accidents, increase your chance of gaining weight, cause mood imbalance and alter your ability to concentrate and be productive.

The key is getting in your eight hours a day — getting more than nine hours of sleep is also associated with poor health outcomes, too.

WebMD offers up some of these tips to getting those zzz’s in:

•    Cut out the caffeine at least six hours before bedtime
•    Be easy on the liquor before bed — it will wake you up in the morning
•    Rest before bedtime in hopes to reduce your stress level
•    Keep your bedroom dark and comfortable
•    Try not to go to bed hungry, but avoid heavy meals before bedtime.
•    Don’t let pets sleep in the bed with you — they may be the reason behind why you keep waking up.
•    No television-watching, eating or talking about major issues — the bed is for sleep and sex only.

BET Health News - We go beyond the music and entertainment world to bring you important medical information and health-related tips of special relevance to Blacks in the U.S. and around the world.

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