Sleep and Society

Sara Arber, Robert Meadows and Susan Venn

in The Oxford Handbook of Sleep and Sleep Disorders

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780195376203
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Sleep and Society

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  • Clinical Psychology


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This chapter demonstrates how sleep is inextricably linked to “society.” Part 1 illustrates how sleep and its disorders are historically and culturally divergent and that “where,” “why,” and “how” we sleep differ depending on the society in which we live. Part 2 focuses in more detail on the “private” nature of Western sleep. Sleep is affected by the social context where it occurs and is thus influenced by household composition, gender, social roles, power, and life course position. We examine sleep in caregiving and institutional contexts, where sleep is not only “observed,” but may be disturbed by those undertaking care or surveillance at night. Sleep is also socially patterned with those who are socially disadvantaged most likely to report sleep problems.

Keywords: Sociology; culture; norms and values; social context; medicalization; life course; gender; childhood; older people; socioeconomic inequalities.

Article.  19747 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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