Rest Fuels the Resistance

soft bedding closing sleep gap amplifying black voices

Last week, we announced our Help Close the Sleep Gap initiative. Each Month, Nollapelli will give a sheet set to a BIPOC activist or advocate for sleep and self care. Rest is crucial to the longevity of resistance, and the majority of people leading the revolution against social injustice, that is people in the BIPOC community, are not receiving enough of it.

In a 2015 study published in Sleep®, medical professionals found significant differences between Black Americans and white Americans when it comes to sleep, especially sleep duration and tiredness during the day. The most notable conclusion, Black Americans are five times more likely to receive less than six hours of sleep than white Americans. Black Americans also experience more disruption in their sleep cycle leading to more tiredness and less alertness during the day.

More research is needed, but sleep disparities between Black and white Americans and what causes lack of sleep for Black Americans (studies have pointed to discrimination and worry experienced during the day carries over into the night, neighborhood location, lack of choice and restricted freedoms, among others.) is being magnified.

As JD Velilla, Head of Sleep Experience & Powered Innovation at Serta Simmons, said in our own Beyond the Sheets series, “Here is what I’ll say about wellness. This is where I think a lot of people get it wrong. They think sleep is part of that story, and it’s not, it’s the foundation of the story. You don’t get wellness without proper sleep.”

When Black Americans do not receive proper sleep, their wellness is put in jeopardy.

Sleep deprivation causes an onset of health problems including the following:

  • Immune system weakens leaving the body more susceptible to disease and sickness
  • Mood swings occur which can lead to increased anxiety and quick-tempered, emotional reactions 
  • Concentration, creativity and problem-solving skills are negatively impacted
  • Increased risk of diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Overeating and weight gain

We are at our strongest, both physically and mentally, when we receive proper rest.

Sleep should not be a privilege; it is a human right. The BIPOC community deserves to rest.

Our fellow white Americans, join us in advocating for Black rest. Let’s lighten the load on the BIPOC community by educating ourselves on white privilege and systemic racism, let’s prioritize the health and well being of our BIPOC community through advocacy, education, protesting and conversation amongst ourselves.

Racism is an adaptive, monstrous opponent. It wants us, particularly the BIPOC community, to be tired, weak, and not clear-headed. Rest helps us fight racism. Rest is a form of resistance.

Further resources and ways to support Black rest:

  • Follow #blackpowernaps on Instagram. “Black Power Naps” was a 2018 exhibition at the Matadero Madrid by Afron-Latinx artists, niv Acosta and Fannie Sosa, which included interactive installations inviting Black Americans to rest, restore and repower. (1-minute)


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