17 Pages


We explore the hypothesis that getting adequate sleep is a function of endogenous and exogenous conditions, including health behavior, that contribute to (or ameliorate) preexisting health disparities. This would occur if sleep disorders or health-related sleep behaviors were more common among the subpopulations that have greater (or lower) health risks. In this chapter, we focus on the primary demographic variables of gender, race, socioeconomic status/education, marital status, and age. In the first section ‘Health disparities,’ we briefly review the literature on health disparities for each of the above demographic characteristics. In the second section, ‘What do we know about the demography of sleep?,’ we investigate the demographic characteristics for three major sleep problems: unfavorable sleep duration, sleep apnea, and insomnia. For each subsection therein, we examine what is known about the relationship between each sleep condition and each of the five demographic dimensions listed above. We accomplish this through literature review and supplement it with results from our own analyses. We conclude with a summary of whether the sleep problems of various subsets of the population might contribute to health disparities.