“We had no way to control for stress, and there are social stresses an African-American man might feel that a white man with the same income and education level wouldn’t,” said Dr. Kristen Knutson, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and an author of the study.
“People who feel they have control over their lives were able to feel secure at night, go to sleep, sleep well, and wake up well in the morning and do it all over again,” said Dr. Lauren Hale, associate professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University on Long Island, referring to her 2009 study. “That’s part of the cycle not just for blacks and minorities, but other disadvantaged populations.”
The studies also found unique trends among racial and gender groups. Hispanic men who were divorced or widowed were found to experience difficulty sleeping as well as Asian men who feared never being married. A lack of education was found to cause sleep problems for Asian women in comparison to white women.
Men of all racial groups experienced quality sleep when they were in a relationship in comparison to single men, regardless of the relationship’s quality. Women however received better rest when they were in a quality relationship.
“There’s an effect of socioeconomics,” said Dr. Grandner, a lead author of the study. “But it’s not really the economic. It’s more about the socio.”
In regards to children, research conducted by Dr. Hale for the National Institutes of Health in 2010 discovered that Hispanics and blacks were less likely to have habitual bedtimes in comparison to white children. White children were also found to have language-based bedtime routines such as story-telling or reading, which have been connected to having cognitive and behavioral advantages.
“If routines are absent, especially these language-based routines, then children may be missing out on opportunities to develop and sleep optimally,” Hale said.