Sexual Orientation and Sleep in the U.S.: A National Profile

Published:January 03, 2017DOI:


      Sexual minorities often experience poorer health than non-sexual minorities. However, extant knowledge remains limited regarding the sleep characteristics, a risk factor for chronic diseases and excess mortality, of sexual minorities compared with non-sexual minorities at the population level.


      This study analyzed the 2013–2014 National Health Interview Survey, Adult Sample (n=68,960) to examine the reported sleep duration and sleep disturbances (i.e., not feeling rested, difficulty falling asleep, and waking up at night) by sexual orientation (i.e., homosexual [n=1,149], bisexual [n=515], and other sexual minorities [n=144]). Statistical analysis, conducted in 2015, used multinomial logistic and logistic regressions to estimate the associations between sexual orientation and sleep variables.


      Adult sexual minorities had higher risks of sleep disturbances than heterosexual adults. Differences in SES and physical and mental health conditions partly explained the gaps. Sexual minority women had greater odds of waking up at night than sexual minority men did, but sexual minority adults who were also racial minorities showed no differences in odds of sleep disturbances compared to white sexual minority adults. Results found that sexual orientation was not associated with an increased risk of short or long sleep duration.


      This study documented substantial disparities in sleep disturbances between sexual minorities and non-sexual minorities. These gaps cannot simply be explained by social and demographic factors. Interventions that target sexual minorities should pay attention to disparities in sleep and investigate methods to promote sleep health of sexual minorities.
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