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The Voice of the Black Community

Health

Losing sleep? It could be due to home environment
Location and habits have impact
 
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2019 2:24 pm
by Jason Wooden PhD

Location and habits can impact the amount of restful sleep you get.

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With all the recent news stories, you should by now be aware that insomnia is a huge problem worldwide.  It’s concerning because people who sleep poorly perform more poorly at school and work.


Making matters worse, poor sleep has been linked to dementia, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.  What this means is that millions of people are unknowingly increasing their risk for other serious health conditions.


In the U.S., one in three adults are sleep deprived.  However, for reasons not completely understood, African Americans have a higher prevalence of insomnia than many other ethnic groups.  According to the CDC, 45 percent of blacks get less than seven hours of sleep compared to 33 percent of whites and Hispanics.


Many theories have been put forward for the so-called black-white sleep gap, including discrimination and other socioeconomic factors.


Link between location and sleep
Recently, researchers reported in the journal Sleep Health the results of a study of African Americans in the New Haven area of Connecticut. The Greater New Haven area has a population of 862,477.  Roughly 130,000 people live in the city itself of which 33 percent are black.    Also of note, one-quarter of the population lives below the federal poverty line.


In a study involving 252 African American men and women, they looked at the link between neighborhood, environment, beliefs, bedtime habits, and sleep quality.


Over 70 percent of the participants reported sleep disturbances.  People with poor sleep quality were more likely to report poorer social and neighborhood environments.


They were also found to have more problematic beliefs about sleep and poorer bedtime habits.  


This is particularly concerning because bedtime habits are known to play a big role in setting the stage for quality sleep.  When coupled with bad attitudes toward sleep, you have a perfect formula for poor sleep.


Sleep has a profound effect on quality of life.  People who sleep poorly don’t cope as well with everyday challenges and make poorer decisions. This can make a bad situation worse for African Americans already dealing with the everyday challenges of social, educational, and economic disparities.


So, what to do about it?


If you’re living in a neighborhood or social environment that’s not great for sleep, you may not have the resources to move somewhere else. However, there are practical things you can and should do to improve your immediate sleep environment.
First, you need to start taking sleep way more seriously.


Second, you need to educate yourself about the things you can control, sleep hygiene and your bedroom environment. Sleep hygiene is what you do during the evening and at bedtime that can affect sleep.  


Some basic sleep hygiene tips:


• Keep regular wake up and sleep times


• Avoid naps


• Exercise during the day


• Avoid large meals, alcohol, or stimulants such as caffeine before bedtime


• Maintain a bedtime routine to wind down


• Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool


Depending on where you live, you may need earplugs to block out neighborhood noises. One old-fashioned remedy for this is to use a fan to create “white noise.”


You can try a face mask or black out curtains if you’re dealing with excessive nighttime lighting.


Studies suggest the optimal bedroom temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you don’t have air conditioning, you should at least run a fan to stay cooler on those hot summer nights.  


You should also limit your use of electronics at bedtime. All electronics, including TVs, tablets, and smart phones, emit bright blue light, which can throw off your natural sleep cycles and leave you wide awake.


Lastly, be sure to get a checkup with a doctor.  Many other health issues and prescription drugs can sabotage your sleep.


Asthma, allergies, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, kidney disease, cancer, and chronic pain can wreck sleep.   You may also have an underlying sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, which continues to be underdiagnosed in African American communities.


If you’re feeling overanxious or down, do something about it.  Anxiety and depression are major causes of insomnia. Did you know that socioeconomic status has been linked to mental health and that African Americans are more likely to report psychological distress than adult whites?


African Americans living in poorer communities face a variety of socioeconomic challenges.  If they can take care of things in their control such as sleep, this will help improve performance at school and on the job giving them a better chance for success in life.


Jason Wooden, a founder of BetterSleepSimplified.com, has worked for over 20 years in biomedical research and healthcare technology research and development.

Comments

I was a call center agent for 2 years and a half. I worked in a graveyard shift so that's why I am awake at night and sleep the whole day. And suddenly I quit my job because of my personal problem. And now I am having a hard time to sleep at night because I get used to being awake at night. Maybe one of the reason also is about my family problem. I really don't know. So this is my problem now I want to sleep in a normal way but it didn't happen, so I told my friend about this then he told me to try this CBD as a medicine I did not believe him at first coz i didn't know anything about it. I came across thishttps://blimburnseeds.com/chocolopez that marijuana can help me with my problem. I don't know if this will work or not. Can somebody help me with this? Or any suggestion. Thanks in advance.
Posted on April 17, 2019
 
I think it's true that "problematic beliefs about sleep" play a big role in sleep deprivation, and therefore poor overall health. From a mental health perspective, sleep is as important to the brain, as water is to the body. That said, a society where it's citizens are deprived, and that propagates stress over self care, is bound to be both sleepless, and unhealthy. Thank you for these reminders!
Posted on March 7, 2019
 

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