African American health problems may be sleep related

Health problems in African Americans have historically been linked to poor diets and a heightened risk of diabetes.

But new research released by the Harvard School of Public Health has highlighted the effects that low levels of sleep among the minority group could have on their long-term health.

Scientists at the institution analysed eight years of data from 2004 to 2011, consisting of 137,000 adults’ medical records and found that 37 per cent of African Americans slept less than seven hours per night. This is substantially more than whites – with only 28 per cent of caucasians categorised in this manner.

Researchers pointed out that social and work environments can affect sleep – including job strain and discrimination in the office, which is less common among white people and more common among ethnic minority groups.

However, despite these findings, other lifestyle factors have a negative effect on African American mortality rates – including dietary habits and poverty levels.

African Americans are also substantially more likely than their caucasian counterparts to be incarcerated and be infected with HIV – presenting a substantial challenge for public health officials.

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