Researchers Look at Sleep Quality in Black and Hispanic Women of Childbearing Age

The research will serve as the foundation for future health promotion programs to address sleep quality

Closeup of a woman sleeping.

(Adobe Stock)

Not getting enough sleep is bad for your health. And while many of us don’t get enough, Black and Hispanic women report particularly poor quality sleep. Now a team of researchers in Connecticut is working with urban communities in the state to figure out how Black and Hispanic women can get more rest.

The National Institutes of Health National Center on Sleep Disorders Research has awarded $3.5 million to a team of researchers led by Nancy S. Redeker, senior associate dean for research and scholarship in the School of Nursing. The grant will fund research looking at how behaviors and social factors affect sleep quality among Black and Hispanic women of childbearing age. The research is designed to be the foundation for future health promotion programs to address sleep quality and its negative effects, including pregnancy outcomes and lifelong heart problems.

Other researchers on the team include UConn’s Natalie Shook and Eileen Condon from the School of Nursing, and geographer Chuanrong Zhang, as well as colleagues from Yale University, including certified nurse-midwife Heather Reynolds who will lead the community advisory board. The board will also include members of the Black and Hispanic communities in New Haven, Hartford, and Waterbury, where the researchers will recruit participants for the study.

The researchers will ask women questions about their health and their sleep, including how long they sleep, how regular their sleep is, and what affects their sleep. Women will use a wrist worn device to measure daily sleep and wear a device to determine whether they have sleep apnea. The data will provide information about sleep quality and health in Black and Hispanic women of childbearing age before they get pregnant. The researchers hope to extend this work in the future to develop and test programs to promote sleep health.

“If you sleep well before you’re pregnant, it’s more likely we can support your sleep while you’re pregnant,” Redeker says. Eventually, the researchers hope the studies will reveal ways in which women can increase their odds of a healthy pregnancy and birth, and possibly improve their lifelong health by adjusting their sleep patterns.