In recent years, strong evidence has emerged suggesting that insufficient duration, quality, and/or timing of sleep are associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD), and various mechanisms for this association have been proposed. Such associations may be related to endophenotypic features of the sleep homeostat and the circadian oscillator, or may be state-like effects of the environment. Here, we review recent literature on sleep, circadian rhythms and CVD with a specific emphasis on differences between racial/ethnic groups. We discuss the reported differences, mainly between individuals of European and African descent, in parameters related to sleep (architecture, duration, quality) and circadian rhythms (period length and phase shifting). We further review racial/ethnic differences in cardiovascular disease and its risk factors, and develop the hypothesis that racial/ethnic health disparities may, to a greater or smaller degree, relate to differences in parameters related to sleep and circadian rhythms. When humans left Africa some 100,000 years ago, some genetic differences between different races/ethnicities were acquired. These genetic differences have been proposed as a possible predictor of CVD disparities, but concomitant differences in culture and lifestyle between different groups may equally explain CVD disparities. We discuss the evidence for genetic and environmental causes of these differences in sleep and circadian rhythms, and their usefulness as health intervention targets.