Examining How Racial Discrimination Impacts Sleep Quality in African Americans: Is Perseveration the Answer?


Journal Article

BACKGROUND: African Americans experience more problematic and disordered sleep than White Americans. Racial discrimination has been implicated in this disparity. However, the mechanisms by which discrimination disrupts sleep are unclear. It has been theorized that Perseverative Cognition (PC), characterized by recurrent patterns of reflective (i.e., rumination) and anticipatory (i.e., worry) negative thinking about personally relevant stressors, may reflect the functional mechanism linking discrimination to sleep. The present study is the first to empirically examine the dual components of PC as a candidate functional mechanism in the association between racial discrimination and subjective sleep quality. PARTICIPANTS: Sixty-eight self-identified African American college students (55.9% female; Mage = 20.18, SD = 2.93) were recruited at a large predominantly white public university in the Midwest. METHODS: The participants completed the Perceived Ethnic Discrimination Questionnaire (PEDQ), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ), and Ruminative Responses Scale (RRS). RESULTS: After adjusting for age, gender, and social class, results revealed a significant indirect effect of racial discrimination (RD) on subjective sleep quality through rumination, 95% CI [.008, .125], but not worry. RD was positively associated with rumination, b =.50, SE =.16, p = .003, and rumination, in turn, was positively associated with poorer sleep quality, b = .09, SE = .04, p = .012. CONCLUSIONS: As both RD and poor sleep quality have been directly linked to heart disease, diabetes, depression, and a number of other maladies, our findings suggest that RD, sleep, and coping strategies (e.g., rumination) employed to manage RD experiences may be important targets for addressing racial disparities in health.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hoggard, LS; Hill, LK

Published Date

  • September 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 16 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 471 - 481

PubMed ID

  • 27690630

Pubmed Central ID

  • 27690630

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1540-2010

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/15402002.2016.1228648


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England