Day-to-day fluctuations in experiences of discrimination: Associations with sleep and the moderating role of internalized racism among African American college students
Objectives: Studies of discrimination and sleep have largely focused on between-person differences in discrimination as a correlate of sleep outcomes. A common criticism of this research is that standard questionnaire measures of discrimination may be confounded by personality and identity and are subject to recall bias. Partially addressing these limitations, the current study examined within-person, day-to-day fluctuations in perceived discrimination as a predictor of day-to-day fluctuations in sleep. The role of internalized racism as a moderator of the within-person association between discrimination and sleep was also considered.Method: Participants were African American college students attending a predominantly White institution (N = 124, 26% male, Mage = 20.1, SD = 1.6). Each student was asked to complete a baseline questionnaire and a 9-day diary. Experiences of discrimination were assessed in the questionnaire and daily diary format. Sleep problems were measured each day using self-report measures focusing on sleep quality. Internalized racism was assessed with the miseducation scale, which captures the degree to which individuals associate negative characteristics such as laziness and criminality with their racial/ethnic group. Established measures of racial identity were considered as covariates.Results: Multilevel analyses indicated that on days when participants experienced more discrimination, subsequent sleep problems increased (B = .037, SE = .017, p = .034). Furthermore, this within-person association was moderated by internalized racism such that the effects of daily discrimination on sleep were stronger among those who scored higher on miseducation (B = .046, SE = .021, p = .033).Conclusions: Overall, results suggest that ongoing efforts to reduce discrimination, support the adjustment of racial/ethnic minority students, and address internalized racism are warranted.