According to a new study, adults who perceive discrimination in daily life have higher rate of sleep problems, based on both subjective and objective measures.
The findings, published in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, indicated that higher discrimination scores were associated with 12 percent higher odds of poor sleep efficiency and a nine percent increase in the odds of poor sleep quality.
“Discrimination is an important factor associated with sleep measures in middle-aged adults,” said study author Sherry Owens from West Virginia University, Morgantown.
The study included 441 adults from a nationwide study of health and well-being in middle age and beyond.
The participants’ average age was 47 years and the complete data was available for 361 participants.
The participants were asked to wear an activity monitor device for one week to gather data on objective sleep measures -- for example, sleep efficiency, calculated as the percentage of time spent in bed that the person was asleep.
They also completed subjective sleep ratings -- for example, how often they had sleep problems.
Perceived experiences of discrimination were assessed using a validated ‘Everyday Discrimination Scale’. And were asked how often they were treated with less courtesy or respect than others or how often they were insulted or harassed.
Objective measures indicated that about one-third of participants had poor sleep efficiency. Subjectively, one-half of subjects rated themselves as having poor sleep quality.
The results indicated that the participants, who perceived more discrimination, had increased sleep problems, after adjustment for demographic, lifestyle and health factors.
Discrimination was also related to (objective) time spent awake after falling asleep and (subjective) overall sleep difficulties.
Older participants and men were more likely to have some types of sleep problems. Age, sex, and mental/physical health factors explained only a small proportion of the effects of discrimination.
The new study is the first to look at how discrimination affects both objective and subjective sleep measures.
“The findings support the model that discrimination acts as a stressor than can disrupt subjective and objective sleep,” researchers wrote.