National Institute on Aging

Harvard Study Finds African Americans Sleep Less Than Whites

A new study led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health finds that African Americans tend to sleep less than White Americans. The racial differences in sleep duration are particularly pronounced among professionals.

chandra-jackson-phd-msLead author Chandra L. Jackson, a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard and the lead author of the study, found that African Americans are more likely than Whites to have jobs where they work the night shift, which tends to disrupt normal sleep patterns. She notes, too, that African Americans are more likely than Whites to work two or more jobs and to be single parents which can increase responsibilities and reduce time available for sleep.

Dr. Jackson also found that African American are more likely than Whites to live in stressful environments that can make it more difficult to relax and sleep.

Dr. Jackson is a graduate of Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. She earned a master degree at Harvard University and a Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.


Comments (3)

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  1. Char says:

    I believe African Americans have been sleeping less than white since slavery.

    • Char: Why do you think Blacks have been sleeping less than Whites since physical enslavement?

      How old are you? How did you draw such conclusions that Blacks sleep less than whites since slavery?
      Do you have any supportive data that would substantiate your assertions that Blacks sleep less than whites?

      Do you think that individual racism coupled with institutionalized racism plays a significant part in Blacks sleeping less than Whites?

      Does poverty and working more than one job impact Black Americans sleep habits which could account for Blacks sleeping less than members of the dominant culture?

      Black Americans and African people throughout the Diaspora have been living in stressful environments in the Americas since their enslavement.

      The descendants of African slaves in the Americas are a very strong people who have survived the middle passage, enslavement, Jim Crow, James Crow II, neocolonialism, systematic genocide, with or without the required amount of sleep.

  2. I am the author of the book, “WHY? AFRICAN AMERICAN CHILDREN CAN NOT READ”, which was based on the premise, that these children had cases of Obstructive Sleep Apnea between the age of 3 -5. That being said, I only query your universal statement that African American’s sleep less that whites. Currently I operate a Dental sleep practice as well as lecture/present on the topic “Neurological Implications of Sleep Disordered Breathing”.
    I would welcome the opportunity to peruse the finite details of the study and its research parameters. Environmental and social economic factors, such as work schedules, etc. are contributing factors, however there may be an illusion of cause in the instant case. So much so that one may not be able to justify the conclusion without distilling the parameters for healthcare and related factors that would be significant factors for burden of proof.

    This is not an attempt to dispute your findings. I am an African American health care professional, with more than 10 years of research in clinical developmental sleep disparities. I would like to share my findings, if at all possible.

    My contact information:

    Dr. Philip Cooper

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