A researcher at the University of Arizona has received a multi-million-dollar grant to partner with Mariposa Community Health Center in Nogales to study sleep health, stress, and risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke among adults living on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We’re hopeful to have a better understanding of the role of sleep in cardiovascular and metabolic disease among Mexican-Americans, and how acculturation and other factors influence this relationship,” said Patty Molina, senior director of community health services at MCHC, who noted that the study is in the beginning stages.

“Once we have more information about this study, we plan to help promote health in the community by recognizing the importance of sleep disorders and insufficient sleep,” she said.

The project is set to begin in August 2018 after local health workers receive training from Michael Grandner, director of the University of Arizona’s Sleep and Health Research Program, who was awarded a $3.6 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to conduct the study, called the Nogales Cardiometabolic Health and Sleep Study (NoCHes), according to a news release from the University of Arizona.

The study will include approximately 1,000 paid participants reflective of local socio-economic and racial demographics, and is focused on gaining a better understanding of health and sleep disorders in the border region; how social, behavioral and environmental factors affect sleep issues; and the potential role sleep plays in risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

“Sleep is an important part of overall health,” Grandner was quoted as saying, adding that the study “will advance our understanding of border health disparities and help us develop better targeted interventions to help this community.”

Grandner said common sleep problems such as insufficient sleep, insomnia and sleep apnea are linked to health issues including poor mental health, impaired brain function and other risk factors including obesity, hypertension, inflammation and diabetes.

“The degree to which sleep disturbances may play a role in health disparities for Mexican Americans, and the influence of social-environmental factors, is unknown. This study will move us closer to being able to make a real impact in the community,” Grandner said.

Molina, who will be the co-investigator on the project, said MCHC is providing space and infrastructure for the project at its facilities in Nogales, and that local community health workers, known as “promotoras de salud,” will facilitate home studies.

Rosie Piper, MCHC health promotion manager, will be the project’s on-the-ground lead, Molina said.

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