Black people know intrinsically about the myriad of life areas negatively impacted by the fact that the myth of white supremacy is baked into the foundations of all American institutions. But one area that doesn’t get enough attention is how racism robs Blacks of one of nature’s most powerful healing agents – sleep.
Blacks have disproportionately higher rates of sleep disorders (sleep apnea, insomnia, more light and less deep sleep, delayed onset, more daytime sleepiness, and shorter sleep duration) compared to any other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. These disparities are compounded by the fact that they contribute to additional racial health disparities.[…]
“Historically, sleep has been elusive for African Americans. From being shackled together en masse in the bowels of a slave ship, lying down, side-by-side, head to foot or even closer, with very little airflow and extremely unsanitary conditions, to living in tight quarters on a plantation, being worked from ‘sun up to sun down,’ fear and terror, to the belief that African people ‘require less sleep,’ African Americans have a long history of sleep deprivation and disruption,” wrote Karen Lincoln, PhD, UCI professor of environmental and occupational health. “Unfortunately, the consequences of a history of structural and systemic racism on sleep and sleep-related health outcomes are relatively unknown.”
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