Stigma Consciousness, Racial Microaggressions, and Sleep Disturbance Among Asian Americans

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Increasing evidence suggests that individual differences in the reporting of microaggressions or subtle forms of everyday discrimination increases risk for poor health, but data on within-person associations between microaggressions and behavioral health outcomes is limited. This study examines the association between daily racial microaggressions and sleep disturbance and assesses whether the association is moderated by stigma consciousness. Participants were 152 Asian American college freshmen (87 male, 65 female) recruited to participate in a 14-day diary study. Perceptions of race-based stigma consciousness, everyday racial microaggressions, and self-reported sleep duration and quality were measured by questionnaire. Multilevel analyses showed that reports of daily racial microaggressions were associated with poorer sleep quality and shorter sleep duration the following day. Higher levels of stigma consciousness predicted greater sleep difficulties. Finally, stigma consciousness moderated the within-person relation between microaggression and sleep. As participants’ levels of stigma consciousness increased, so did their tendency to experience diminished sleep quality and shorter sleep on nights after they reported more racial microaggressions. These results remained robust after adjustments for age, gender, nativity, socioeconomic status, and individual differences in the average level of daily racial microaggressions reported. These results add to a growing literature on the effects of bias and unfair treatment reported by Asian Americans by demonstrating how and when such experiences may be particularly consequential for sleep.

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