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How Poor Sleep Traps Blacks In A Vicious Cycle Of Poor Health And Inequality



Black girl having a hard time sleeping on the side of her bed, she has her hand on her head

Of course, you have been told to get enough sleep by everybody and their mama throughout your life, but according to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around half of black Americans don’t get enough sleep. In contrast, about 33 percent of white Americans don’t get enough sleep. 

Why is this a significant? Because poor sleep contributes to poor health and financial inequality. 

According to a report by Vox, poor sleep is characterized by not just the hours of sleep a person gets but the quality of sleep also. Blacks in America are more likely to sleep fewer hours, develop sleep apnea and wake up multiple times a night. The causes of these poor sleeping conditions are the same as the results of these of poor sleep: poverty, bad health, and discrimination. 

Living in poor neighborhoods that are noisier and associated with higher crime rates leads to poor sleep. Bad heath conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart disease lead to bad sleep. The stress of dealing with discrimination and racism on a constant basis leads to bad sleep. And in turn, the bad sleep leads to bad health and income inequality. 

Just like any vicious cycle, this is a difficult one to break. There are so many factors leading to poor sleep that just alleviating one problem (which is a difficult task in itself) will not automatically lead millions to sleep better. However, raising the awareness of good sleep in our own community will go a long way. 

RELATED: How “This Is Us” Highlights Anxiety in Black Men 

We can start with the one area we have the most control of: ourselves. Be aware of what is leading you to poor sleep and find ways to solve those issues, one at a time. Yes, you might not control the noise in your neighborhood, but can you make your bedroom more comfortable and find ways to block out the noise? If obesity is leading to you waking up multiple times a night, can you stand to lose some weight? If stress is leading you to be up later than you should, can you look into meditation?

Spread the word among your friends and family. Good sleep is in!

P.S. The notion “hustlers” have, the one that says “I will sleep when I die” is hilariously ignorant. Get some good sleep! Your body and your mind will thank you.