Sleep Problems Common for American AdultsDid you sleep well last night? If you are like many Americans, your sleep quality may not be great. A new study finds that sleep disturbances are common in American adults aged 54 and older. The study also reveals that sleep problems are more common in racial and ethnic minorities than in white Americans.

The researchers evaluated the sleep habits of 2,230 racially and ethnically diverse men and women from six communities in the United States. They used actigraphy to measure participants’ sleep duration, polysomnography to measure breathing during sleep, and validated surveys to gather participants’ perceptions about their sleep habits. The data was controlled for age, sex, race, and location.

Not sleeping enough and having sleep-disordered breathing affected approximately one-third of participants. Thirty-one percent slept less than six hours per night and 34 percent had moderate or severe sleep-disordered breathing. Twenty-three percent of participants reported having insomnia and 14 percent said they had excessive daytime sleepiness.

The study also demonstrated that black Americans, Hispanics, and Chinese-Americans are more likely than whites to have disordered sleep. Black participants were the most likely to sleep less than six hours per night and were more likely than white participants to have poor sleep quality and to experience daytime sleepiness. Hispanic and Chinese participants were more likely have sleep-disordered breathing and to not sleep enough.

“Our findings underscore the very-high prevalence of undiagnosed sleep disturbances in middle-aged and older adults, and identify racial/ethnic disparities that include differences in short sleep duration, sleep apnea, and daytime sleepiness,” stated lead study author Dr. Xiaoli Chen, research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

This research is published in the journal Sleep.

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