Study Shows Black Professionals Sleep Less Than Whites, Tips To Better Sleep

News & Views | Camille Travis | 09/10/2013 | 03:30 PM EDT

Study: Black Professionals Sleep Less Than Whites

A lack of sleep will certainly catch up with you-- just ask Tyrese.

A new study out this week suggests that African-Americans-- particularly professions-- have shorter sleep durations than their Caucasian counterparts. The consequences of sleeping less than seven hours a night can lead to a higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and weight gain-- conditions prevalent in the African-American community.

"I think that African-Americans, African-American professionals in particular, need to pay more attention to their sleep quality and how much sleep they get,” says Chandra L. Jackson, PhD, the lead author of the study. “You can quickly lose mental alertness, decrease work productivity or have workplace injuries."

Jackson backed up her study with data that African-Americans are more likely to do shift work (including night shifts), have multiple jobs, be single parents and live or work in more stressful environments. All of these factors can contribute to a disruption in the normal sleep cycle and/or diminish sleep quality.

Past studies have found that individuals in managing companies and enterprises tend to have the shortest sleep time, followed by the transportation and warehousing industry.

This is the first sleep study that focused solely on the difference between races.

Don't get caught sleeping on the job -- check out these six tips to getting better Zzzz's....

Set a Sleep Schedule: Go to bed at the same time every night, even on the weekends (and yes, holidays/days off). This trains your body to function on a sleep-wake cycle. If you decide to change your bedtime, do it slowly. Shift your sleep schedule by 15-minute increments every day.

Create a Bedtime Ritual: Stick to a nightly routine to wind down your day. Consider taking a warm bath, reading or listening to soothing music before you doze off. Avoid television or electronic devices before heading to sleep.

Watch What You Eat: Avoid heavy meals and fatty foods before sleep that run the risk of disturbing your sleep cycle. Also, spicy or acidic foods can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.

Set The Mood and Buy Quality: The ideal sleeping environment is dark, quiet, comfortable, temperature-controlled (to your liking) and free of distractions. Don't underestimate the importance of quality mattresses and pillows to support your body.

Avoid Caffeine, Nicotine & Alcohol: Ditch the caffeine (no-brainer), nicotine and even alcohol before getting your seven hours. Both caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and alcohol (often thought to be a sedative) can disrupt a sleep cycle.

Strictly Keep The Bed For Sleep (and maybe one other activity): Get out of the habit of bringing work, computers, cell phones and other distractions to bed. This will strengthen you brain's bed-sleep association and decrease anxiety.

(Photo: Thinkstock Images)

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