Insomnia in Africans

A new study has linked the high incidence of cardiovascular disease in people of African descent to insomnia. The study published by the National Center for Biotechnology was conducted by medics from the Sleep Disorders Center of Howard University Hospital in Washington, DC, in the United States. Researchers sought to find out if there was any relationship between insomnia in people of African descent with cardiovascular disease and the high occurrence of diabetes.

Cardiovascular Disease and Insomnia Are Common in Africans

Both cardiovascular disease and sleep disturbances that include reduced sleep duration, insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and disordered circadian rhythm have a markedly high prevalence in Africans and people of African descent. The fact that cardiovascular disease and diabetes have a higher incidence in black Africans and African Americans even when adjusted for lifestyle factors, compared to people of other races has long perplexed scientists. The study sought to find if insomnia and other sleep problems–also highly prevalent in people of African descent–contributes to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

How Insomnia Contributes to Cardiovascular Disease

The study sought to evaluate sleep behaviors and to throw some light on the physiologic and epidemiological evidence linking cardiovascular disease to sleep problems in people of African descent. It found out that people that Africans and African-Americans who report sleeping for five hours or less are more likely to report having hypertension than those who sleep for seven or eight hours.

The study also found that about 50 percent of all people with obstructive sleep apnea are actually hypertensive. There is also a marked correlation between habitual short sleep duration with coronary heart disease. Sleeping for more than seven hours a day reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 65 percent and the risk of fatal cardiovascular events by 83 percent.

How You Can Combat Insomnia

Far from being a harmless condition, the study highlights the dangers of chronic insomnia. In some cases, when left untreated, insomnia can escalate to an extent that it will lead to fatalities. And before the publication of this study, few doctors found any link between these serious heart-related diseases to insomnia. The need to treat insomnia has taken on a new importance. Some ways to reduce insomnia without taking medicine include:

  • Maintaining a regular sleep schedule
  • Keeping your bedroom cool and dark
  • Stopping smoking
  • Get enough exercise
  • Avoiding being pegged to electronics in the evenings and nights
  • Getting a comfortable bed

For long, scientists have known that people of black African heritage are more likely to get cardiovascular disease than people of other races. The reasons for this increased risk have been a cause of speculation in the medical community. This new study suggests that insomnia, which is also very common in Africans, has something to do with it. The new findings give yet another reason why you should treat insomnia aggressively.

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