Watch: Insomnia | TheGrio Asks

Insomnia can affect individuals across all demographic groups, including the Black community.

Insomnia is a sleeping disorder making it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or experiencing non-restorative sleep, that affects individuals from all demographics, including the Black community. However, there are several factors unique to the Black community that can accelerate the impact of insomnia. We sat down with Dr. Danine Dean, a licensed psychologist to discuss the importance of sleep and how to overcome insomnia while handling the day-to-day struggle.

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Black people are missing out on sleep at alarming rates. (Photo credit: Adobe Stock)

During the interview with Dean, she discusses many elements of approach and treatment for people who struggle to sleep. But Dean puts an emphasis on a few outstanding issues that only affect African Americans.

Socioeconomic disparities for Black people, which includes limited access to healthcare resources, will and has contributed to higher levels of anxiety than white people, which are major risks for insomnia. Certain experiences, like family deaths or traumatic events, can lead to chronic stress and psychological distress, which are known to disrupt sleep patterns. In many cultures, including the Black community, there may be stigmas surrounding mental health issues, which includes sleep disorders. This stigma can prevent individuals from seeking help or discussing their sleep problems openly, leading to non-treatment of insomnia.

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Dean also discusses other effects of chronic health conditions where Black people are disproportionately affected by obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, which are known to be associated with many sleep disorders. Along with that, cultural norms and social pressures within the Black community, such as the expectation to work multiple jobs or care for family members, may contribute to irregular sleep schedules and increased stress levels.

Lastly, Dean discusses historical traumas, such as slavery and segregation, that can still contribute to one’s’ mental health and well-being within the Black community. These traumas can manifest in various ways, including sleep disturbances.

Addressing insomnia within the Black community requires a creative approach that addresses the underlying socioeconomic, cultural, and healthcare disparities that contribute to Insomnia. This may involve increasing access to affordable healthcare, addressing systemic racism in the Black community and discrimination. We can also promote mental health awareness, and provide education about healthy sleep habits and coping strategies for managing depression, anxiety and stress. Therefore, culturally sensitive interventions and outreach efforts tailored to the needs of the Black community can help improve awareness, diagnosis, and treatment around insomnia.

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