Contact: Stephanie Corkett

Sleep Health Journal Article Highlights Association between Poor Sleep and Physical Function in Black Older Adults with Disabilities


Washington, D.C. (October 5, 2021): New research findings published in the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) Sleep Health Journal show that poor sleep was associated with poor physical function among low-income, predominantly Black older adults with disabilities. 

Objectively Measured Sleep and Physical Function: Associations in Low-Income Older Adults with Disabilities (Okoye, Szanton, Perrin, Nkimbeng, Schrack, Han, Nyhuis, Wanigatunga, and Spira) analyzed data on nighttime sleep duration and wake after sleep onset (WASO) – time spent awake after initially falling asleep– from a population of low-income, predominantly Black individuals with disabilities. The study was designed to investigate whether poor sleep was associated with lower levels of physical performance and greater difficulty completing self-care activities such as bathing and dressing, and/or household activities such as grocery shopping and preparing meals.

Findings showed greater wakefulness during the night was associated with poorer physical performance and greater difficulty completing household activities.

“Given the disparities in sleep and disability in low-income and Black older adults, and the costs of caring for low-income older adults with disabilities, it is critical to study sleep health in this under-studied population.” said senior author, Adam P. Spira, PhD, a professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health. “It is becoming clear that sleep is closely related to social determinants of health, such as insufficient incomes and racial discrimination. This has important implications for studying how social factors impact health and function as we age.” added Safiyyah Maryam Okoye, PhD, MSN, a post-doctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.

NSF’s Sleep Health Journal is a rigorous source of information and insight that aims to help solve racial and other disparities that exist in sleep health and well-being. For more information about sleep health, visit

About the National Sleep Foundation

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation dedicated to improving health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy. Founded in 1990, the NSF is committed to advancing excellence in sleep health theory, research and practice.