Your racial and ethnic background can shape many aspects of your life: the type of food you eat, where you live, and your political views.
Now a new survey suggests that how you sleep and what you do before you hit the hay — whether it’s watch TV, pray, or have sex — varies by ethnic group as well.
In the survey, the first of its kind, a representative sample of more than 1,000 whites, African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics ages 25 to 60 were asked about their sleep and bedtime routines. While their answers revealed plenty of differences between groups, they also showed that we have something in common: Most of us aren’t sleeping well.
In each group, roughly six out of 10 people reported that they don’t get a good night’s sleep every night or almost every night, according to the survey, which was conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C.
“A significant proportion of all ethnic groups are experiencing sleepiness that impacts their day to day living,” says Thomas J.Balkin, Ph.D., chairman of the National Sleep Foundation. “Sleepiness impacts every aspect of our lives, so for those people who are not getting a good night’s sleep, getting better sleep will make you sharper in the boardroom, give you a better quality of life, and [make] the sun seem a whole lot brighter.”
Across the board, a lack of sleep appears to be affecting people’s lives and relationships.
Roughly one in four people in each ethnic group said that they missed work or a family function because they were too sleepy, and a similar proportion said they were too exhausted to have sex on a regular basis.
The survey results offered a peek inside the bedrooms of Americans, and how we spend our time before drifting off.
For instance, 75 percent of African Americans reported watching television routinely in the hour before going to bed, compared with 64 percent of whites.
Only 52 percent of Asians said they watched TV before bed almost every night, but they were far more likely to use a computer or surf the Web before bed; more than half said they did so almost every night, compared with about 20 percent in the other groups.
Sexual activity also varied among the groups. Ten percent of African Americans and Hispanics reported having sex almost every night, compared with 4 percent of whites and 1 percent of Asians.