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Sleep Habits Vary Among Ethnic Groups According to New National Sleep Foundation Poll

March 31, 2010
Decatur, GA -- The 2010 Sleep in America poll recently released by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reveals significant differences in the sleep habits and attitudes of Asians, Blacks/African-Americans, Hispanics and Whites. It is the first poll to examine sleep among these four ethnic groups.

“Sleep disorders manifest and present themselves in a variety of different ways,” says Dr. Joseph Weissman, board-certified sleep specialist at the DeKalb Medical Sleep Disorders Center. “It is important for us as a Center to understand and recognize these differences.” 

The NSF’s Sleep in America poll found that more than three-fourths of respondents from each ethnic group agree that poor sleep is associated with health problems (76-83%). The poll also shows that all groups report disturbingly similar experiences of missing work or family functions because they were too sleepy (19-24%). 

“As the leading voice of sleep health, we are committed to better understanding people’s sleep needs,” says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. “By exploring ethnic and family sleep practices, we have gained new insight into why we sleep the way we do.”

“Sleep Disorders do not discriminate, and many can be life-threatening,” states Massey Arrington, technical director at DeKalb Medical Sleep Disorders Center. “It’s important to seek out professional help right away if you suspect you are suffering from poor sleep.”

Sleep disorder diagnosis is uneven among the four ethnic groups. The 2010 poll found that sleep disorders continue to be very common among the adults surveyed, with specific disorders occurring at different frequency among the four groups.

  • Whites report the highest rate of diagnosis for insomnia (10%), and blacks/African-Americans have the highest rate of diagnosed sleep apnea (14%) among the four groups.
  • Among those experiencing sleep problems, whites are the most likely to report using over-the-counter sleep aids at least a few nights a week (7%). Blacks/African-Americans are almost twice as likely to report taking medications prescribed by a doctor (7%) rather than over-the-counter sleep aids (3%). 
  • “If you are experiencing problems sleeping,” says Thomas Balkin, Ph.D., Chairman of the NSF, “Take charge of your own sleep. You should critically examine your bedtime routines and pre-sleep activities and make time to ensure your bedroom is conducive to your sleep comfort. You will spend approximately a third of your life in bed, so it’s worth it to take time to make sure your bed and bedtime routine are right for you. If you continue having problems sleeping for more than a few weeks, it’s advisable to speak with your healthcare professional."

About DeKalb Medical

A leader in heart attack treatment and orthopedics, DeKalb Medical is a non-profit hospital system serving half a million patients annually. Founded in Atlanta in 1961, the system includes the 451-bed DeKalb Medical at North Decatur. It was also named in the top 5% of all U.S. hospitals in 2009 and 2010 for clinical excellence by HealthGrades® and received the Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence award. In addition, the System also operates the 40-bed DeKalb Medical Long Term Acute Care at Downtown Decatur and the 100-bed DeKalb Medical at Hillandale in Lithonia. For more information on DeKalb Medical, visit www.dekalbmedical.org.

2701 North Decatur Road Decatur, GA 30033
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