Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports

, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 387–394 | Cite as

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

  • John H. Kingsbury
  • Orfeu M. Buxton
  • Karen M. Emmons
  • Susan Redline
Race and ethnicity Disparities (M Albert, Section Editor)


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 


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • John H. Kingsbury
    • 1
  • Orfeu M. Buxton
    • 2
  • Karen M. Emmons
    • 1
  • Susan Redline
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Community-Based ResearchHarvard School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer InstituteBostonUSA
  2. 2.Division of Sleep MedicineHarvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Division of Sleep MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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