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Black Professionals Sleep Less Than Whites

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Sleep (Image: Stephen Morris)

Sleeping less than seven hours a night can lead to a higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain.

A new study out this week suggests that blacks in the United States have shorter sleep durations than their white counterparts—particularly professionals—and may contribute to the reasons why these conditions affect black Americans more.

“Education and healthcare are where you see the biggest disparity,” says Chandra L. Jackson, Ph.D., post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the study.

She attributes some of the disparity to data that blacks are more likely to do shift work, especially night shifts, disrupting the normal sleep cycle. Blacks are also more likely to have multiple jobs, be single parents, and live or work in more stressful environments, which also decreases the chances of quality sleep.

Previous research has shown that sleep varies according to the person’s profession or industry, but none have focused specifically on the difference between races.

A 2010 study found that the number of people experiencing short sleep duration has increased over the past two decades. In their research, people managing companies and enterprises had the shortest sleep time followed by the transportation and warehousing industry.

Jackson did suspect, however, that it might be different among blacks. “Oftentimes it’s so hard to have strong enough [research] data to support your everyday life experiences,” she says. “I was surprised, but it supports my thoughts.”

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