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Sleep and Poverty – Are They Related?

sleep and poverty

It isn’t just a sleep disorder that can keep you up at night. Several other seemingly normal things can also affect your quality of sleep. For instance, a noisy neighborhood, a rowdy boss, less than the ideal workplace, and uncomfortable living conditions are all major – but overlooked – reasons that affect your sleep. We are aware that the lack of sleep can have adverse effects on the mind and body of a person, resulting in loss of productivity and affecting performance. But in a recent study, it has been found that the opposite is also true, which means that a person’s socioeconomic condition can affect the quality of sleep.

sleep qualityResearch done by the Harvard University has found that the sleep quality varies depending upon various factors such as race, education level, and household income. It could be interpreted in both ways– people belonging to a socioeconomic status could get poor sleep because of various factors like uncomfortable living conditions, hectic work hours, long commute, and noisy neighborhood, or poor sleep could affect productivity and reduce chances of success.

Lower socioeconomic status offers fewer options to people. They have fewer comforts, less flexible workplaces, and less favorable living conditions. When people don’t make enough money, they are unable to afford better housing or work where they want to. If they cannot afford a car, they need to travel long hours to and from work. If they live in a small space with many children at home, there’s more noise and commotion. If they cannot afford an upper-class neighborhood, sleep is disrupted because of noisy traffic and people till late in the night.

People are working extra hard to make money wake up earlier in the morning compared to those who have a better job or workplace. There are people who sleep less than two hours a night because they work till late and then have to wake up at the crack of dawn for another job. Noisy neighborhoods, unfavorable living conditions, and inflexible workplaces are often associated with poverty and lower income groups.

work and sleepSleep is an important part of life. A major chunk of the day should be spent sleeping. Humans attach greater importance to sleep than any other species. But these days, people sleep less than they should. Given the dismal economic condition, if we are lucky to have a job, most of our waking hours are spent working. People belonging to lower socioeconomic status have a poor sleep because they spend long hours working and come home to unfavorable living conditions. Social and work stressors are also more among the lower socioeconomic groups. It was found in the study that those who had a flexible and open-minded manager enjoyed better sleep quality and quantity compared to those who had less flexible managers.

In a similar way, a difference in sleep quality was found among white and black people. Among the various reasons behind the difference, the strongest was nightshifts. Those in need of extra money usually work nightshifts, and this robs them of the necessary sleep. Night shifts also cause a disruption in the circadian rhythm, and increase risk of cardiac problems and diabetes. Working more than one job is also indicative of a lower socioeconomic standard, where sleep is disrupted for the sake of making money.

On the flip side, those with a high paying job also suffer from several sleep-related problems. Longer working hours reduce time for sleep. In the last few decades, the number of short sleepers has increased by leaps and bounds among full-time workers. The less sleep a person gets, the more are the risks of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiac diseases, but the financial security also makes people capable of dealing with and treating these diseases.

Besides work, neighborhoods, and other factors, sleep deficiency is aggravated by the time spent in front of the TV or the compute. To make up for loss of sleep (if the time when work starts cannot be delayed) the time spent watching television or doing Facebook should be lessened. Socioeconomists studying the situations believe that it isn’t enough, though. They believe that to remove this sleep disparity a comprehensive plan that involve addressing the social, biological, and environmental factors.


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