People who struggle to sleep must address the problem. Limit screen time, exercise more, and sleep earlier, warn experts. Blackout curtains, earplugs, and other traditional remedies don’t always work. Black Americans sleep worse than whites, sometimes for reasons beyond their control. Health professionals must explain sleep in the context of a person’s life and surroundings. sleep deprivation
Disparities In Sleep From Social & Environmental Factors
Mercedes Carnethon, vice chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and an expert on racial inequalities in cardiovascular disease believes social and environmental factors contribute to sleep variations. Poor sleep has wide-ranging consequences. Sleep deprivation is connected to heart disease. Heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S., may be lowered if more people get enough sleep. This year, the American Heart Association recommended getting adequate sleep.
Lauren Hale, a professor of preventive medicine and sleep behavior expert at Stony Brook Medicine, says good sleep for everyone might reduce racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in cardiometabolic illnesses. Two hundred and twenty-nine Backs per 100,000 died of heart disease in 2020, compared to 170 whites. Some studies suggest that at least half of racial disparities in cardiometabolic disease risk are linked to sleep patterns.
Hale says sleep hygiene advice ignores systemic disparities. “Sleep research must be turned into scalable, sustainable medicines,” she adds.
Structural Racism Fundamentally Causing Sleep Inequities
Sleep is hard to examine since it happens outside a lab. Sleep is multifaceted, says Kristen Knutson of Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Sleep length, quality, and timing affect health. According to the CDC, one-third of Americans sleep fewer than seven hours every night. It likely misses many nighttime wakers.
Despite the ubiquity of ordinary sleep disturbances, “sleep medicine has generally focused on clinical sleep disorders,” including obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia, says NYU’s Natasha Williams. These illnesses are easier to diagnose and cure than sleep disorders; in detecting and treating serious diseases, race and socioeconomic status matter. This all-encompassing strategy ignores millions of people, disproportionately Black, whose lack of sleep puts them at risk for cardiometabolic disease and death.
Racism affects sleep.
RELATED: Consequences Of Sleep Deprivation
Undercutting Opportunity In Restorative Sleep & Cardiovascular Health
Separating sleep from other factors contributing to cardiovascular diseases, such as diet, exercise, or weight, is difficult. Unhealthy habits go hand-in-hand. Poor sleep inhibits exercise and healthy nutrition. Unhealthy food or activity may cause poor sleep, perpetuating the cycle. Loops may promote cardiometabolic deterioration. Poor sleep increases the risk of Black obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Each of these conditions causes disturbed sleep; someone with diabetes may get up at night to urinate. This might worsen and produce new disorders.
Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health assistant professor Dayna Johnson studies sleep health inequities and cardiovascular disease. Racism impairs sleep and heart health. Experts claim chronic stress impairs sleep. Socioeconomic factors, interpersonal stress, racism, and prejudice may affect sleep. Racial and ethnic sleep disparities are caused by heightened alertness, fear of discrimination or mistreatment, and neighbor suspicion. To sleep well, one must be relaxed and not be hypervigilant.
Not all races benefit from rising affluence. Wealthier people sleep better. High-income, well-educated Black Americans sleep worse than