Black Professionals Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep And It’s Having A Negative Impact On Their Health

September 12, 2013  |  

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The consequences of not getting enough sleep can be hazardous to your health. People who sleep less than seven hours a night are more prone to higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and weight gain.

So the news from a new study is not good for black professionals. The study found that blacks in the United States have shorter sleep durations than their white counterparts, especially professionals. This may show why these health conditions affect African Americans more.

“Education and health care are where you see the biggest disparity,” Chandra L. Jackson, PhD, post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the study, told TheGrio.

According to Jackson, some of the disparity between blacks and whites could be because blacks do more shift work, especially night shifts, which disrupts the normal sleep cycle. On top of this, blacks are also more likely to have multiple jobs, be single parents and live or work in more stressful environments. All of these factors decrease the chances of quality sleep.

This is the first study to focus specifically at the differences between the races in regards to sleep duration. Other research has looked at how sleep varies according to the person’s profession or industry.

Data from a 2010 study found that the number of people experiencing short sleep duration has increased over the past 20 years. “In their research, people managing companies and enterprises had the shortest sleep time followed by the transportation and warehousing industry,” reports TheGrio.

Jackson, however, wondered how the outcome might be different for blacks.

“Oftentimes it’s so hard to have strong enough [research] data to support your everyday life experiences,” she said. “I was surprised, but it supports my thoughts.”

Jackson says she hope blacks will heed the warnings of the study.

“I think that African-Americans, African-American professionals in particular, need to pay more attention to their sleep quality and how much sleep they get,” Jackson said. “You can quickly lose mental alertness, decrease work productivity or have workplace injuries.”

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