It’s well-established that a lack of sleep can impair our cognitive function. Sleep loss has also been linked to adverse physical outcomes likeweight gainand, increasingly, more serious maladies. Is it possible that lack of sleep can even explain the income gap?
Those are just a few of the issues we try to figure out in this episode. But because sleep is such a big and interesting topic – and, let’s face it, it’s also kind of weird, the fact that our bodiesshut down entirelyfor roughly a third of our lives – we are actually making two episodes about sleep. The second one will be released next week.
Here are a few of the questions we ask in this first episode:
+ While the CDC recently declared insufficient sleep a “public-health epidemic,” are we treating the problem as seriously as we ought to be?
+ How legit are the sleep data that have traditionally been collected (hint: not very!) and what is being done to get better data?
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+ Are we really sleeping a lot less these days than we used to, or is that argument the product of old, faulty data? And how has our sleep duration changed over time?
+ Who sleeps more: high-income or low-income people? Women or men? Whites or blacks?
+ Could sleep duration be a missing link in explaining the vast difference between health outcomes for whites and African-Americans?
And here are some of the people you’ll hear from in Part 1:
+Sherman James, a professor of epidemiology and African-American studiesat Emory, who for years has been studying the black-white health gap. James has exploredthe notion of “John Henryism,”and whether blacks’ worse health outcomes may be due to harder working conditions and lack of opportunity.