Race, ethnicity, and gender are common factors that play a significant role in many areas of an individual’s life. These factors often relate to intertwining issues of health, socioeconomic status, and the ability to find care. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, disproportionately affected individuals of color

Sleep is another aspect of life that can be affected by one’s race, ethnicity, and gender. The prevalence of sleep apnea around the world is likely due to factors such as jaw structure (craniofacial), obesity, and fat distribution that may be associated with race/ethnicity and/or sex.

We’re going to look at this issue today, giving you a basic insight into the research and reasoning behind this idea.

Are Race, Ethnicity, and Gender Common Factors in Sleep Disorders? 

It’s important to note that all three terms – race, ethnicity, and gender – are hard to define. A close look at the boundaries of race shows us that there are no clear dividing lines. The same is true for gender and ethnicity.  

Because these are social constructs, it’s challenging to get conclusive research on the biological factors that could contribute to sleep disorders. On the other hand, it’s not as difficult to see the environmental effects of a person’s identity. 

It’s not necessarily the major instances of racism and prejudice that contribute to negative health outcomes in a population, though. Instead, it’s the systemic inequality that distances access to health care, reinforces power dynamics, and causes many minorities to experience onslaughts of (stressful) microaggressions. 

Identity & Key Factors in Sleep

Research shows that people of color and women, particularly non-Hispanic Black folks, sleep fewer hours per night than white men. These groups are at higher risks for many health issues, including heart disease, hypertension, anxiety, chronic stress, and more. 

Sadly, there’s a reciprocal relationship between the aforementioned health issues and sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re much more likely to experience higher levels of stress throughout the day, for example. 

If you experience stress all day, it’s much more difficult to sleep at night. Stress is often a blanket emotion for nuanced emotions. Rage, anxiety, and fear concerning your environment could shine through as stress. 

Further, race, gender, and ethnicity impact one’s profession, statistically. This is a result of the aforementioned systemic inequality. Access to education and support are significant here. Lack of education reduces healthy job options. 

Shiftwork, particularly night work, is particularly damaging to sleep. The list of correlating factors goes on. 

Want to Learn More About Sleep Health?

Race, ethnicity, gender and their relationship to sleep is a complicated issue, but learning more can help us change things. If you’re struggling with sleep, we’re here to help

Explore our site for more ideas on improving your sleep health. The good news is that there are ways to get a good night’s sleep, whoever you are.