Sleep Quality May Impact Skin Health August 27, 2012
A recent article in the New York Times ("How Well you Sleep May Hinge on Race," Aug. 20, 2012), discussed a link between ethnicity and quality of sleep. According to the story, non-Hispanic white patients sleep longer with less interruption than people of other ethnicities. Black patients are also most likely to get shorter, more restless sleep, according to the article.
Poor sleep quality has been associated with high blood pressure, obesity, and insulin resistance, which might help explain why people in some minority groups experience higher rates of chronic health conditions.
The article highlighted racial disparity evidence presented at the annual Associated Professional Sleep Societies meeting in Boston in June. White patients from the Chicago area were found to get an average of 7.4 hours of sleep per night; Hispanic and Asian patients averaged 6.9 hours; and black patients averaged 6.8 hours. Sleep quality – defined as ease in falling asleep and length of uninterrupted sleep – was also higher for white patients than for black patients. Even after adjusting for cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, and obesity, black patients and other ethnic minorities still got less, and more disruptive, sleep than white patients.
Could differences in quality of sleep also be associated with dermatologic conditions that occur at a higher rate in certain ethnic groups?
A study, published earlier this year, found that sleep disturbance correlated with immune system dysregulation (Am. J. Geriatr. Psychiatry 2012 Feb. 10 [epub ahead of print]), which could help explain why atopic dermatitis is seem more frequently in children of Asian and African-American descent?
Interestingly, there have been reports of sleep disturbances in both infants and older children with atopic dermatitis (Asian Pac. J. Allergy Immunol. 2012;30:26-31). But is it the atopic dermatitis that causes poor sleep or the poor sleep that exacerbates the atopic dermatitis?
I think there is probably a relationship in both directions. It would be interesting to study whether socioeconomic and living conditions, regardless of race and ethnicity, are contributing factors. Insights into sleep quality and ethnic disparities may also offer further information on the same disparities seen in skin conditions.
- Naissan Wesley, M.D.
Indulge...In Your Health!