Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports

, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 387–394

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


  • John H. Kingsbury
    • Center for Community-Based ResearchHarvard School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Orfeu M. Buxton
    • Division of Sleep MedicineHarvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Karen M. Emmons
    • Center for Community-Based ResearchHarvard School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
    • Division of Sleep MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
Race and ethnicity Disparities (M Albert, Section Editor)

DOI: 10.1007/s12170-013-0330-0

Cite this article as:
Kingsbury, J.H., Buxton, O.M., Emmons, K.M. et al. Curr Cardiovasc Risk Rep (2013) 7: 387. doi:10.1007/s12170-013-0330-0


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

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013