Let’s start this off by getting to know each other. My name is Denisse, and I’m a photographer and content creator based out of Phoenix, Arizona. You can check out my website here. I’ve been a Tuft & Needle Partner for a few years now. We own quite a few of their products and have recommended them to everyone we get the chance to. My family is a T&N family through and through. That’s why when my friends at Tuft & Needle invited me to have this very important conversation on their platform, I was immediately all in.
If you’ve come across my instagram, you’ve seen me share a lot of the Black Lives Matter movement, educational resources, productive conversations and tools we can use to do better. In one of my most recent conversations with Tuft & Needle, the racial disparities in sleep came up. Yeah. I know. What? You didn’t know that Black, Latinx, and other non-white communities get less sleep than white people? Okay… neither did I. Which is why we need to talk about it.
This incredible article in the Los Angeles Times discusses how the racial disparities in sleep date all the way back to slavery. I highly recommend checking this article out. There’s a portion that really stood out to me where they discuss how Thomas Jefferson believed that Black people “required less sleep” than white people. This is something that really struck me because, well, we just know that’s not true, and how anyone could believe something like that is beyond me. It goes along with the racial disparities we see in medical care. Surveys have shown that many doctors believe Black people don’t feel pain the way white people do. It’s all incredibly overwhelming, sad and unfair, but true.
I’ve been fortunate enough to partner with brands like Tuft & Needle, and through these partnerships I’ve gotten amazing sleep tools. I’ll plug my favorites here but please note that I don’t get affiliate money for any of the products I’m sharing.
I acknowledge that owning all of these things is a privilege that not many people who look like me have. The first T&N mattress we were gifted through partnership was my first BRAND NEW mattress as an adult. Growing up, splurging even $300-$500 a nice comfortable mattress was just not something my family could afford. So there’s the socioeconomic difference in being able to physically obtain better sleep tools which is something to think about.
Then we have the fact that many people living in underserved communities just don’t have time to sleep a normal amount of hours. Growing up, I remember my mom would work at the hospital from 7AM to 3PM. About 4 days out of her 7 day work week, my mom would work 7AM to 3PM and then 3PM - 11PM. She would get home at about midnight, shower, clean up, get her stuff ready for the next day and sleep from about 2AM - 5AM. While I’ve always thought my mother’s work ethic is incredible and she’s an actual superhero, as an adult I realize she had no choice but to sacrifice her sleep to make ends meet.
That’s not to say there aren’t white people working multiple jobs and also sacrificing their sleep in order to survive. But studies show that this issue is more prevalent in Black, Latinx and other non-white communities.
Here are some articles shared with me that I found helpful in learning more about sleep inequality:
What's the connection between race and sleep disorders?
Racial/ethnic disparities in sleep health and health care: importance of the sociocultural context
I hope that through these conversations we are able to educate ourselves, support brands like T&N who are facilitating these conversations, and continue to share information like this because now more than ever it is needed.
Check out this IGTV on T&N where I chat a little bit more about this conversation. In the spirit of transparency, I’ve partnered with T&N to help bring this conversation to light. I know that we’ve been saying Black people and POC should be paid for doing this work, and brands should do more than just post Black squares. So I’m proud to share that this is a paid partnership and through this partnership T&N has also donated $1k to the organization of my choice, Phoenix BLM Metro, to continue to support, amplify and uplift Black voices everywhere, but specifically here in Phoenix.
Let’s continue to share, do the work and educate ourselves. It’s not over till it’s over.