DEIB and Sleep

Monday, April 1, 2024


In a world where leaders are increasingly acknowledging the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) in all aspects of life, it's crucial to understand how these concepts touch even the most foundational aspects of our lives, such as sleep. Sleep is crucial for our mental, emotional, and physical health, yet access to quality rest varies greatly, revealing an often-overlooked facet of inequality that intersects with gender and race.

Studies highlight a stark disparity:

Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men, and Black individuals experience poor sleep at double the rate of their white counterparts.

These statistics are a clear indicator of the ingrained inequalities that affect even the most basic aspects of our lives.

The consequences of inadequate sleep extend beyond simple tiredness. It significantly increases the risk of mental health issues, including causing depression, and negatively impacts cognitive abilities like concentration, memory, and problem-solving.

Additionally, chronic sleep deprivation is linked to serious health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, disproportionately impacting women and marginalized racial groups.

The relationship between DEIB and sleep is woven through a complex mix of socio-economic factors, stress, environmental conditions, and healthcare disparities.

Women, grappling with multiple roles, face increased stress that can disrupt sleep. Similarly, Black individuals confront higher stress levels and sleep disturbances due to racial discrimination, economic challenges, and neighborhood safety concerns. These realities underscore the need for a comprehensive DEIB approach that acknowledges both overt and covert forms of inequality.

To mitigate these disparities, multifaceted strategies are essential. Workplaces can contribute by adopting flexible hours, offering sleep-related health benefits, and fostering a culture that prioritizes sleep hygiene. Further, promoting education and awareness about sleep's significance and the unique challenges different groups face is critical.

Here are actionable steps for a DEIB-focused approach to improving sleep health:

1. Survey employees to understand your demographic baseline: Start by understanding your workforce's composition to identify minority groups requiring additional support.

2. Prioritize retention of underrepresented employees: Initially concentrate on retaining diverse talent instead of primarily focusing on recruitment. Ensuring underrepresented employees receive adequate support and feel a strong sense of belonging is essential for their long-term success.

3. Foster safe and open conversations about DEIB: Leverage discussion groups or Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for open dialogue on DEIB issues, utilizing ERG leaders or partnering with organizations like Chorus Sleep, who offer expert coaches to facilitate these important conversations.

4. Embrace a broader definition of professionalism: Shift away from narrow definitions of professionalism that prioritize traditional credentials and appearances, like the Ivy League-educated person in tortoise shell glasses. Instead, celebrate a diversity of experiences and appearances to foster greater inclusivity.

5. Support employee sleep as a DEIB initiative: Recognize the profound impact of racial injustice and cultural stress on sleep among underrepresented groups. Providing accessible, effective sleep support is essential for their wellbeing and success at work.

Acknowledging the intersection of DEIB and sleep allows us to address the layered inequalities that affect marginalized communities. Through dedicated efforts, especially from employers, we can work towards a world where everyone enjoys the health and productivity benefits of restorative sleep, contributing to more equitable outcomes across society.

If you’d like to learn more about supporting sleep at your organization, please: