Published December 22, 2016
Latino men are one of the groups more likely to suffer from restless sleep and other chronic disorders than the population at large, a new study published in the journal Ethnicity & Disease revealed.
Along with African-American men and men living in poverty, Hispanic men suffer more restless nights and get on average less than five hours of sleep. While no causal link was established during the study, data shows that sleep issues correspond in minorities along with higher chronic disease rates.
“Since the racial differences in many diseases mirror the racial differences we see in sleep, we checked to see if sleep causes differences in these diseases,” said lead author Rebecca S. Piccolo, associate director for health services and disparities research at the New England Research Institutes.
Researchers studied 5,502 men and women ages 30 to 79. Each participant answered questions about their health and the quality of sleep during two interviews. The first took place between 2002 and 2005 with five year follow-ups between 2006 and 2010.
The study found that participants who reported experiencing restless sleep during the first interview were 66 percent more likely to be obese after 5 years and 50 percent more likely to have developed type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“While we found that restless sleep was more common in people with obesity, diabetes and heart disease, our data shows that the racial difference we saw in these diseases were not likely caused by these differences in sleep,” Piccolo said.
Timothy Monk, the director of the human chronobiology research program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, called the study, "a useful contribution to today's important debate regarding metabolic health, obesity and sleep."
Monk, however, warned that while the research shows there are both sleep differences and health differences that occur with race, "the health differences are not simply arbitrated by the sleep differences," meaning, he clarified, that "there are effects over and above the sleep ones contributing to the health differences observed."