Respiratory Factor

Race and Rest

The National Sleep Foundation’s “2010 Sleep in America” poll is the first of its kind to examine sleep habits and attitudes of Asians, blacks, Hispanics and whites. The participants included more than 1,000 people ages 25 to 60 who identified themselves as belonging to one of the four racial groups.

The poll, released March 8, captured interesting data about similarities and differences in sleep patterns by race. Respondents offered feedback about whether they get a good night’s sleep, how much sleep they get on workdays vs. weekends and what daily activities they do immediately before going to sleep.

Of particular note to the respiratory and sleep industry is data gathered in the poll about sleep problems and sleep aids. More than half of each racial group said they took action when they had sleep problems, and the types of actions varied.

Overall, there is widespread understanding across all groups that insufficient or poor sleep is associated with health problems, with 83 percent of whites, 81 percent of Asians, 78 percent of Hispanics and 76 percent of blacks agreeing with that statement.

For more info on the poll, see the National Sleep Foundation’s Web site at

Actions Taken When Having Sleep Problems

Respondents were asked if they have ever discussed sleep issues with a health care professional or if a doctor has ever asked about their sleep. Overall, Asians were the least likely, at 31 percent, to have been asked about or discussed sleep with a doctor, compared with 56 percent of whites, 48 percent of Hispanics and 45 percent of blacks.

The poll also uncovered that sleep disorders vary according to racial group.

  • White, black, and Hispanic respondents were all about twice as likely as Asian respondents to have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder.
  • Sleep apnea was more common among black respondents, at 14 percent, compared with 8 percent of Hispanics, 6 percent of whites and 4 percent of Asians.
  • Insomnia and restless leg syndrome were more common among white respondents.

Told by a Doctor Have/Had Sleep Problems

This article originally appeared in the Respiratory & Sleep Management May 2010 issue of HME Business.


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