An article posted to the National Journal last week claims whites are more likely to sleep comfortably than blacks because of widespread racism.
Entitled “The Black-White Sleep Gap: An unexpected challenge in the quest for racial justice,” the article cites several studies which state that black Americans experience less “slow-wave sleep” than other races.
“Generally, people are thought to spend 20 percent of their night in slow-wave sleep, and the study’s white participants hit this mark,” author Brian Resnick writes. “Black participants, however, spent only about 15 percent of the night in slow-wave sleep.”
Danielle L. Beatty Moody, a psychologist at the University of Maryland, suggests that factors such as “mistreatment” or “maltreatment” only greatly affect the sleep of blacks, not whites.
“It’s uncomfortable for them to sleep because they are thinking back over mistreatment, thinking back over maltreatment, thinking back over bias they experienced,” Moody said. “In thinking about those experiences, they are getting more aroused, more cognitive arousal, which does the opposite of what you need it to do to go to sleep.”
University of Calgary psychology professor Lianne Tomfohr made similar statements as well, pointing to discrimination as the reason behind poor sleep patterns among black Americans.
“That was our thought: If people are feeling really discriminated against, then of course they are not going to want to get into a really deep stage of sleep,” Tomfohr states.
Other scientists, including Stony Brook University professor of preventive medicine Lauren Hale, instead blamed issues such as poverty and “noisy, unsafe, disorderly neighborhoods.”
“If you know somebody in your neighborhood who has had a break-in, you might feel pretty uncomfortable shutting your eyes falling asleep while your two or three children are sleeping in the room next door and no one else is there to protect them,” Hale said. “And that type of insecurity, whether it’s financial or physical safety, is more common among people who don’t have control over their environment, because if you did have control over your environment, you’d say, ‘I’m getting out of here.’”
While the article insinuates such sleeping issues are rooted in discrimination and white privilege, Daily Caller journalist Eric Owens argues that such claims are yet another addition in “the long and ever-growing list of racist things in every nook and cranny of American life including coconut bras, golf jokes about Barack Obama, hump day, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and, of course, ‘Thomas and Friends.'”