A recent online article from CNN argued that Daylight Savings Time disproportionately affects the sleep and health of minority communities.

The piece, published on Friday by CNN Health reporter Jacqueline Howard, argued that Daylight Savings Time often disrupts sleep, throws off people’s circadian rhythms and can contribute to general health problems.

And since people of color have a higher number of health problems, this means observing Daylight Savings Time is more dangerous for them.

The piece began by citing Vanderbilt University Medical Center Sleep Division professor, Dr. Beth Malow, who claimed, “Daylight saving time is associated with increased risks of sleep loss, circadian misalignment, and adverse health consequences.”

Howard also cited National Institute of Environmental Health Science researcher Chandra Jackson, who stated, “Poor sleep is associated with a host of poor health outcomes, including obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, including of the breast and colon.”

Jackson added the key point, stating, “Many of these health outcomes are more prevalent in the Black population.“

Howard noted, “it’s not that White adults don’t also experience a lack of sleep and its health consequences – but people of color appear to disproportionately experience them more, and that’s believed to be largely due to social systems in the United States.”

Sleeping older couple
CNN cited studies that show daylight savings impacts people’s sleep and that people of color have more health problems.
Getty Images

Recent research done by the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation’s Dr. César Caraballo-Cordovez found that “among more than 400,000 adults in the US, between 2004 and 2018, the prevalence of short and long sleep duration was persistently higher among those who were Black and Hispanic or Latino.”

Caraballo-Cordovez, mentioned a few of the factors he sees making good sleep and good health harder to achieve for minority groups. He said, “Among those are housing conditions, noise pollution, light pollution, air pollution, stress from different sources – including perceived racial discrimination – and jobs or working conditions.”

Howard claimed that “structural racism” can account for these factors that make sleep harder for people of color. She wrote, “Many social and environmental determinants of health – including living conditions or work schedules that don’t support sleep – may emerge, at least in part, from historical and persistent forms of structural racism.”

She quoted Jackson, who specifically defined structural racism as the “totality of ways in which societies foster racial discrimination through mutually reinforcing systems of housing, education, employment, wages, benefits, credit, media, health care and criminal justice.”

Howard also described other ways this alleged racism manifests in our society. She included, “the history of discriminatory mortgage lending and appraisals in the US, which affect the conditions in which people of color may live; how predominantly white school districts tend to get more funding than districts serving people of color… and even how hair discrimination may contribute to some Black women using potentially harmful chemical hair products.”

She cited Jackson again, who stated, “it is believed that discriminatory policies and practices across sectors of society create the physical and social conditions that make it more difficult for Black families to get optimal sleep and grow up healthy.”

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