The relationship of sleep duration with ethnicity and chronic disease in a Canadian general population cohort

Mandeep Singh, Kelly A. Hall, Amy Reynolds, Lyle J. Palmer, Sutapa Mukherjee

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    15 Citations (Scopus)
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    Study Objectives: Sleep duration is an important marker of sleep quality and overall sleep health. Both too little and too much sleep are associated with poorer health outcomes. We hypothesized that ethnicity-specific differences in sleep duration exist. Methods: This cross-sectional study utilized questionnaire data from the Ontario Health Study (OHS), a multi-ethnic population-based cohort of Canadian adult residents aged 18 to 99 years, who provided medical, socio-demographic, and sleep information. Generalised linear models were used to investigate the association of sleep duration with ethnicity. Results: The study sample consisted of 143,307 adults (60.4% women). The sample was multi-ethnic, including self-identified Aboriginal, Arab, Black, Chinese, Filipino, Hispanic, Japanese, Korean, Mixed (>1 ethnicity), South Asian, South-East Asian, West Asian, and White ethnicities. Univariate analyses found that mean sleep duration compared to the White reference group (7.34 hours) was shorter in the Filipino (6.93 hours, 25 min less), Black (6.96 hours, 23 min less), Japanese (7.02 hours, 19 min less), Chinese (7.23 hours, 7 min less), and Mixed (7.27 hours, 4 min less) groups (all P<0.001). Mean sleep duration was shorter in men (7.25 hours) compared to women (7.37 hours) in the cohort as a whole (P<0.001), and in all ethnic groups (P<0.001). Multivariate analyses, adjusted for a wide range of potential risk factors, and analysis of sleep duration as a categorical variable (“short”, “average”, and “long” sleepers) confirmed these relationships. Both sleep duration and ethnicity were independent significant predictors of a range of physician-diagnosed morbidities including diabetes, stroke, and depression. Conclusion: Important differences exist in sleep duration between ethnic groups and may contribute to observed health disparities. Our results highlight the need for ethnicity-specific targeted education on the importance of prioritizing sleep for good health, and the need to account appropriately for ethnicity in future epidemiological, clinical, and translational research into sleep and related conditions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)239-251
    Number of pages13
    JournalNature and Science of Sleep
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License [CC BY NC]. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.


    • Ethnicity
    • Health disparity
    • Population health
    • Sleep duration
    • Sleep health


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