Posted on November 7, 2022

Feds Paid Nearly $1.2 Million to Study If Poor Sleep Is Caused by Racism

Casey Harper, Center Square, November 2, 2022

The National Institutes of Health has issued more than a million dollars via taxpayer-funded medical research grants to find evidence that racism is to blame for poor sleep in minority communities.

The funding was appropriated to Dr. Alexander Tsai, an associate professor at Harvard University who is conducting the research through Massachusetts General Hospital, where he works as a psychiatrist.

The studies are based on the hypothesis that the disparity in sleep health in the black community is “thought to be explained partially by experiences of interpersonal racial discrimination.”

“This application focuses on police use of deadly force on unarmed black Americans as a cardinal manifestation of structural racism,” reads the grant summary in the NIH database. “The central hypothesis is that police use of deadly force on unarmed black Americans leads to unhealthy sleep among other black Americans in the general U.S. population. This hypothesis has been formulated on the basis of strong preliminary data showing that police use of deadly force on unarmed black Americans leads to poor mental health among other black Americans in the general U.S. population.”

NIH awarded $460,656 to Tsai in 2020, $439,970 in 2021, and $273,625 in 2022 for the research project, titled “Racial disparities in police use of deadly force as a cause of racial disparities in sleep health across the life course.”

That totals nearly $1.2 million over three years.


Critics told The Center Square that the research is based on false assumptions and don’t account for other factors.

“It assumes that there is structural racism,” said Mike Gonzalez, an expert on critical race theory and diversity issues at the Heritage Foundation. “It assumes that the disparities are caused by structural racism and not a panoply of other reasons. {snip} There are decisions that people make. There are bad schools. There are problems with family formation.


The researcher points to social science literature where where “some people need to ‘steel themselves’ to prepare in advance for the possibility that they will be subjected to various racial insults day to day.”

When asked about whether lifestyle choices could be to blame for the sleep issues, Tsai said this study doesn’t address that but that it could be difficult to take that into account because those lifestyle choices could also be caused by racism.