Race and ethnicity Disparities (M Albert, Section Editor)

Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports

, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 387-394

First online:

Sleep and its Relationship to Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease

  • John H. KingsburyAffiliated withCenter for Community-Based Research, Harvard School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • , Orfeu M. BuxtonAffiliated withDivision of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • , Karen M. EmmonsAffiliated withCenter for Community-Based Research, Harvard School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • , Susan RedlineAffiliated withDivision of Sleep Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School Email author 

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There are substantial racial/ethnic disparities in cardiovascular disease in the U.S., but few mechanisms have emerged as feasible intervention targets. A growing body of research suggests that racial/ethnic differences in sleep deficiency, including extreme sleep duration, sleep-disordered breathing, and insomnia, may help explain disparities in cardiovascular disease. However, little is known about the mechanisms underlying racial/ethnic disparities in sleep. In this article, we review the extant literature on sleep and cardiovascular outcomes (eg, hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular disease) and racial/ethnic differences in these relations. We also discuss possible mechanisms that might help explain racial/ethnic sleep disparities, including neighborhood disadvantage, psychosocial and occupational stressors, acculturation, and treatment access and adherence. More research is needed to establish causal linkages among race/ethnicity, sleep, and these mechanisms, but existing evidence suggests that targeting these factors in interventions may reduce racial/ethnic sleep disparities and improve primary prevention of cardiovascular disease among all racial/ethnic groups.


Sleep Sleep duration Sleep-disordered breathing Insomnia Race Ethnicity Disparities Cardiovascular disease