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Date: Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 5:44 am

By: Denise Stewart, BlackAmericaWeb.com

Blacks spend more time in bed without sleeping than any other ethnic group, according to a poll released Monday by the National Sleep Foundation.

The survey also found that blacks and Hispanics are 10 times more likely to report having sex every night than Asians or whites.

The NSF conducts polls each year on various topics that relate to sleep behaviors, said Tom Balkin, chairman of the Washington, D.C.–based organization. This year’s report reveals significant differences in the sleep habits and attitudes of Asians, blacks, Hispanics and whites.

It is the first poll to examine sleep among these four ethnic groups, Balkin told BlackAmericaWeb.com.

“As the leading voice of sleep health, we are committed to better understanding people’s sleep needs,” says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. “By exploring ethnic and family sleep practices, we have gained new insight into why we sleep the way we do.”

Blacks spend 54 minutes on weekdays/workdays and 71 minutes on non-workdays/weekends in bed without sleeping. Among the other ethnic groups, Hispanics reported spending 42 minutes in bed without sleeping, 36 minutes for Asians and 25 minutes for whites.

On weekends, time in bed without sleeping ranged from 71 minutes for blacks to 57 minutes for Hispanics, 43 minutes for whites and 41 minutes for Asians, according to the survey.

When it comes to sex, 10 percent of blacks and Hispanics report having sex every night, compared with four percent of whites and one percent of Asians.

Balkin said the survey included questions about sex because of the impact it can have on sleep.

“Sex is relaxing, and it enhances sleep onset,” Balkin said. “Reading also helps people relax before going to sleep.”

The survey did find that among married people or couples living together, all ethnic groups report being too tired for sex frequently – 21 to 26 percent of the time.

Balkin said the average person needs to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. “Most don’t get the recommended amount of sleep,” he said, maintaining that most sleep just over seven hours.

A large percentage of blacks in the survey said they don’t need as much sleep as people in other ethnic groups.

Blacks reported getting the least amount of sleep on workdays/weekdays – six hours and 14 minutes. They also say that they need only seven hours and five minutes of sleep each night to perform at their best during the day, which is significantly less sleep than Asians and Hispanics – seven hours and 29 minutes each.

One theory is that people sometimes condition themselves to survive on less sleep, so it becomes a habit, Balkin said.

“The brain can forget how it feels to be optimally alert,” he said, adding that this can be especially true for people with sleep apnea or those conditioned by their work shifts.

“The finding that blacks/African-Americans say they need less sleep and get less sleep is instructive for public health professionals,” says Jose S. Loredo, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. “Their total sleep time and attitudes regarding sleep may be associated with blacks/African-Americans’ higher rates of sleep apnea, hypertension and diabetes and provide sleep-related insight into how to improve awareness and education programs and, very importantly, how to improve therapy compliance rates.”

The survey also reported:

– Most blacks, 71 percent, report praying every night. That’s more than four times the reported frequency of Asians at 18 percent, twice the rate of whites at 32 percent and 1.5 times the rate of Hispanics at 45 percent.

– Blacks and Asians are more likely than whites and Hispanics to report doing job-related work in the hour before bed. Among those employed, 17 percent of blacks and 16 percent of Asians reported doing work before bed, while 13 percent of Hispanics and nine percent of whites reported doing the same.

– A larger percentage of blacks reported losing sleep every night over personal financial and employment concerns. Twelve percent of blacks reported losing sleep over financial concerns, and 10 percent reported losing sleep over employment concerns. Only six percent of whites reported losing sleep over financial concerns, and seven percent reported losing sleep over employment concerns. The numbers were lower for Asians, at one percent and four percent respectively. The percent of sleep loss for Hispanics in this category were similar to blacks, with 11 percent losing sleep over financial concerns and nine percent losing sleep over employment concerns.

– Asians report getting the best sleep, report the least amount of sleep problems and infrequent use of sleep aids.

– Whites are the most likely to report sleeping with their pets and/or their significant other/spouse.

– Among those married or partnered, 14 percent of whites reported sleeping with a pet, compared with two percent in each of the other ethnic groups.

The National Sleep Foundation began surveying sleep health and behaviors in 1991. The 2010 Sleep in America Poll was conducted for NSF by WB&A Market Research, using a random sample of 1,007 adults between the ages of 25-60 and identifying themselves as white, black, Asian or Hispanic.

The mission of NSF, Balkin says is to promote public awareness of sleep disorders and the affects of inadequate sleep.

“If you are experiencing problems sleeping,” says Balkin, “take charge of your own sleep. You should critically examine your bedtime routines and pre-sleep activities and make time to ensure your bedroom is conducive to your sleep comfort.”

The National Sleep Foundation suggests the following to improve your sleep:

· Go to sleep and wake at the same time every day, and avoid spending more time in bed than needed.

· Use bright light to help manage your “body clock.” Avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning.

· Use your bedroom only for sleep to strengthen the association between your bed and sleep. It may help to remove work materials, computers and televisions from your bedroom.

· Select a relaxing bedtime ritual, like a warm bath or listening to calming music.

· Create an environment that is conducive to sleep that is quiet, dark and cool with a comfortable mattress and pillows.

· Reduce or eliminate your intake of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.

· Save your worries for the daytime. If concerns come to mind, write them in a “worry book” so you can address those issues the next day.

· If you can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired.

· Exercise regularly, but avoid vigorous workouts close to bedtime.

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