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Study Examines Insomnia’s Impact on Black Adults During COVID-19

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Sarah Shoen

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Black adults have been 4.2 times more likely to develop severe insomnia symptoms than white adults during the pandemic, according to a Thomas Roth Sleep Disorders and Research Center study.

Researchers said that the results of the study, conducted in Michigan, “have been consistent with national reports of racial disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The study found that 4.2 times more Black adults reported severe insomnia symptoms than white adult participants. Further, Black participants attributed their sleep disturbances more to COVID-19 than white participants did.”

In April 2020, researchers surveyed 196 adults — 148 white and 48 Black — who participated in a clinical trial on insomnia treatment in 2016 and 2017. The re-evaluation looked at participants’ insomnia symptoms and other factors such as race, COVID-19’s impact on their lives, and COVID-19-related stress.

Participants self-evaluated their insomnia symptoms during the April 2020 re-evaluation. They also reported experiences with racial discrimination and the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on their routines, income, employment, access to food, medical care and mental treatment, access to social support, familial stress, and diagnoses and severity of COVID-19 in their family and social networks.

Researchers noted that while “no racial differences in insomnia were detected acutely following insomnia treatment” after the initial clinical study in 2017, Black participants reported more severe insomnia symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic when compared to white participants. These results came after adjusting for factors such as pre-COVID insomnia severity, treatment condition, sex, and household income in the re-evaluation.

The study found that 4.2 times more Black adults reported severe insomnia symptoms than white adult participants. Further, Black participants attributed their sleep disturbances more to COVID-19 than white participants did.

Black participants also reported a greater increase in insomnia symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic when compared to white participants, and symptoms among Black participants were almost three times as severe as those of white participants, when compared to symptoms before the pandemic.

This study “provide(s) evidence that the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black Americans may be a key mechanism driving Black-white disparities in insomnia symptoms,” researchers said.

Insomnia during the pandemic has spurred a new term, coronasomnia, to describe insomnia fueled by pandemic-related stress. Researchers recommend further investigation into the pandemic’s impact on sleep in “other marginalized and intersectional groups … and how disparities in sleep health may be improved with more structural equity in the United States.”

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About Our Editorial Team

author
Sarah Shoen

News Writer

Sarah has covered news topics for digital and print publications. She holds a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Nevada.

About Our Editorial Team

author
Sarah Shoen

News Writer

Sarah has covered news topics for digital and print publications. She holds a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Nevada.

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