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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Minnesota Finds Socioeconomic Disparities in Sleep Duration among Veterans of U.S. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Regularly sleeping fewer than six hours per night has been linked to a number of health problems including cardiovascular disease, poor mental health, and other life-threatening diseases.


Now, a new study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health highlights socioeconomic disparities in sleep duration among veterans who served in the U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Research found these veterans are at an increased risk of not getting enough sleep, and suffering the resulting consequences.

“Poverty and perceived discrimination can be deep and unrelenting stressors,” said Dr. Rachel Widome, lead author and assistant professor in the U of M School of Public Health.

The study appeared online December 18, 2014, in the American Journal of Public Health.

To learn more about short sleep duration and its risk factors, Dr. Widome and her colleagues asked approximately 900 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan since October 2001 to respond to a mailed health behavior survey.

The survey found:

“Getting adequate sleep is important for health and wellbeing, but veterans are at risk for being in sleep debt,” said Dr. Widome. “One way to promote more healthful sleep might be to focus on helping veterans navigate various social and economic stressors which can contribute to stress and diminish sleep.”