AUBURN, AL (WBRC) - For years, we've known that poor diet and lack of exercise can lead to health problems.
But now, a new study out of Auburn University says a lack of sleep is harmful as well.
The study goes a step further saying it causes major differences in the health rates of black and white Americans.
The study was conducted by Auburn University doctoral candidate David Curtis along with Associate Professor Thomas Fuller-Rowell and Professor Mona El-Sheik.
All of them are within Human Development and Family Studies, all in the College of Human Sciences.
This study found that if someone is sleeping poorly they're more at risk for a whole range of health problems, including heart disease.
One thing the study found is black American adults have more sleep problems relative to white Americans, and that translates to unequal rates of hypertension, diabetes and stroke prevalence.
So why are some black Americans having more sleep problems?
Researchers say part of it is closely linked to social environment factors.
So stress levels, psychological stress as well as neighborhood safety, which leads people to not feeling as comfortable to go outside and exercise," says Fuller-Rowell. "So physical activity is linked to sleep."
Now that this info is out, Fuller-Rowell hopes it will not only increase awareness but possibly lead to policy changes as well as more clinical one-on-one type interventions.