Who’s Really Suffering From A Lack of Sleep? Our Perceptions vs Reality

Today’s post is one that I wrote for Ryan Hurd’s Dream Studies, a blog primarily devoted to exploring different levels of dreaming consciousness, but also concerned about the larger issues of sleep and health facing our modern society.   I first started working with Ryan a few years ago and knew that I wanted to keep that going; his anthropology background yields some pretty unique insights into sleep, dreaming, consciousness, and health around the world, perspectives that could stand to be heard more often.

Whenever we see an image of someone who is “sleep deprived” what do we usually see?  A parent with children? An overweight or obese person –or one who’s underweight? Someone living in a rural district?  Is it a person of color? Chances are, we see none of that. Instead, we may actually see an image of a white man rushing from one meeting to another, or a white woman in a business suit trying to shake off fatigue in a meeting.

Because of these images, sleeplessness is presumed to be a result of this busy, demanding, upper-middle class lifestyle; if you simply adjusted this, you wouldn’t need that extra coffee. Yet data released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on sleeplessness in the United States does not line up with this quite so neatly.

Instead, what comes out is that those who report higher instances of sleeplessness, defined as insufficient sleep (less than 7 hours per night) on more than 14 days within the past 30, are predominantly people of color–in particular Black/ African-Americans, Native Americans & Hawaiians, and those identifying as other or multiracial)–between the ages of 25 – 44, unable to work, and obese.  Read More Here.