Assimilation, Depression Associated With Sleep Duration Among Mexican Americans

A recent study found a potential link between assimilation and depression and sleep duration of Mexican Americans.

The sleep duration of Mexican Americans could be affected by depression and acculturation, which is assimilation into a culture different than their own, according to a study published in Preventive Medicine Reports. These results could explain health disparities in Hispanic and Latino people.

The researchers used data from the 2005-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and analyzed it from August 2020 to September 2020. The analysis was limited to Mexican Americans 18 years and older who received a physical examination.

All participants were asked how much sleep they usually get per night or what time they went to sleep and woke up. Short was determined to be a maximum of 6 hours; optimal, 7 or 8 hours; and long, at least 9 hours. Length of time was categorized as less than 10 years or at least 10 years in the United States. Depression was assessed with the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ), and language spoken at home was also collected.

There were 4700 participants in the study, most of whom were aged 18 to 44 years (65.0%), male (52.8%), married or living with a partner (67.5%), and with an income above the poverty level (70.8%). Most of the participations (85.7%) had lived in the United States for at least 10 years and 50.6% spoke Spanish as their primary language.

Most of the participants (77.1%) reported minimal levels of depression, whereas 15.7% reported mild, 4.8% reported moderate, and 2.4% reported moderately severe/severe depression. Most study participants living in the United States for 10 or more years reported optimal (54.3%) sleep duration, followed by short sleep duration (30.8%) and long sleep duration (14.9%). Patients who had moderately severe/severe depression levels reported short sleep duration most often (43.5%), followed by optimal (33.4%) and long sleep duration (23.1%).

The researchers found that living in the United States for 10 or more years was significantly associated with long sleep duration vs participants who had lived in the United States for less than 10 years (adjusted OR [aOR], 1.61; 95% CI, 1.17-2.23). Participants who primarily spoke English had a greater associattion with short sleep duration compared with those who spoke a majority of Spanish (aOR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.00-1.52).

Short sleep duration odds were significantly associated with mild (aOR, 1.63; 95% CI, 1.32-2.01), moderate (aOR, 1.94; 95% CI, 1.43-2.63), and moderately severe/severe (aOR, 2.58; 95% CI, 1.72-3.88) depression levels. Moderately severe/severe depression was also associated with long sleep duration (aOR, 2.30; 95% CI, 1.34-3.93). Further, the odds of short (aOR, 1.07; 95% CI, 1.05-1.09) and long (aOR, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.02-1.07) sleep duration increased for every 1-point increase in the 9-item PHQ.

There were some limitations to this study. A causal relationship between sleep duration and acculturation or depression could not be determined due to the cross-sectional nature of the study, and social contexts may be inconsistent across survey years and could affect the survey responses.

"This area of research remains understudied and further work should be done to elucidate the relationship between acculturation/depression and sleep among this population," the authors concluded. "Moreover, since Mexican immigrants have been shown to be at a higher risk for acculturative stress and health consequences due to acculturation, improving health practitioner knowledge on how sleep duration and quality are influenced by these psychosocial and cultural processes is vital to ameliorating sleep health disparities."


Ormiston CK, Lopez D, Ishino FAM, McNeel TS, Williams F. Acculturation and depression are associated with short and long sleep duration in Mexican Americans in NHANES 2005-2018. Prev Med Rep. Published online July 21, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.pmedr.2022.101918

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