Objective: We investigated sex differences in sleep and examined the association between objectively-measured sleep characteristics and weight gain among 54 black students at a historically black university in spring 2018. Methods: Participants wore a wearable tracker (Fitbit Alta) for an average of 68 days of sleep over the spring semester and 5.5 days of sleep over the spring break. They also completed a questionnaire. Results: Average sleep duration was 6 hours 35 minutes. More women had short sleep (< 7 hours / night) than men (92.1% vs 43.8%; p < .001). Women had shorter sleep (6 hours 24 minutes vs 7 hours 1 minute; p = .003), shorter naps (2 hours 4 minutes vs 2 hours 30 minutes; p = .043), and lower sleep efficiency (93.0% vs 94.1%; p = .048) than men. More women than men experienced weight gain (79.0% vs 68.8%, p < .05). We found an inverse relationship between sleep duration and weight gain in both sexes (r = -0.42, p < .05). Conclusions: Appropriate sleep and weight management should be considered to address sex disparities in sleep and weight gain among black students at historically black universities.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute