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The Sleeping Lives of Children and Teenagers: Night-Worlds and Arenas of Action

Jo Moran-Ellis and Susan Venn
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 9

Abstract: Most research into sleep, even that which includes a sociological dimension, tends to focus on sleep outcomes, in effect following an agenda set by the natural sciences and psychology. The work reported in this paper engages with the material and social dimensions of sleep from within social constructionist and interactionist frameworks, seeking to explore and theorise the meaning and experience of sleep from the perspective of the sleeper. In doing this, we examine how contemporary constructions of sleep and constructions of childhood and adolescence arise and are linked in the UK context. Sleep time tends to be constructed as empty of activity other than sleeping and devoid of the sorts of interactions that characterise wakeful day-time. However, a grounded analysis of qualitative data generated with 9 children and 2o teenagers suggested that the assumption of absence of activity and interaction was misleading: their nights were populated by a range of actors, presences and activities. Placing our focus on these aspects of our participants' accounts of their sleep we found that the temporal, spatial and interactional dimensions of routine sleep served to create a definable arena of action (Hutchby and Moran-Ellis 1998) which was marked out both materially and socially. We conceptually frame this arena of sleep as a night-world (Moran-Ellis, 2006).

'It's Okay for a Man to Snore': the Influence of Gender on Sleep Disruption in Couples

Susan Venn
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 1

Abstract: Snoring is a common cause of disturbed sleep for both the snorer and their partner. Whilst the physical effects of snoring are well documented as causing excessive daytime sleepiness, decreased effectiveness at work and irritability, it is also important to recognise the impact snoring has on the negotiation of sleep within couple relationships. This article analyses qualitative data from an ESRC funded multi-disciplinary project on couples' sleep based on in-depth audio-tape recorded interviews with 31 couples (aged 20-59) where either one or both partners snore. Additionally, one week's audio sleep diaries were completed and follow up separate in-depth interviews were undertaken with each partner. The gendered nature and implications of snoring are analysed. Results indicate that there is a gendered conception of snoring, which is problematic for women in three ways. First, women who snore are embarrassed and stigmatised by this 'unfeminine' action. Secondly, the embarrassment that women feel about their snoring is compounded by their partners sharing that information outside the privacy of their relationship. Thirdly, by finding excuses for their male partners' snoring, as well as developing strategies to cope with its disruptive effects, most women are prioritising their partners' sleep over their own, and perpetuating their own sleep disruption.

Caring and Sleep Disruption Among Women in Italy

Emanuela Bianchera and Sara Arber
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 4

Abstract: Drawing on qualitative research with 27 Italian women aged between 40 and 80 years, this article examines how family structure, gender role expectations and caring roles impact on women's sleep at different points in their life course. Care work shapes sleep quality and duration for the majority of these women. High levels of sleep disturbance were found among women who cared for older frail or disabled relatives. Women caring for young children and adult children living at home also experience decreased sleep quality. When informal care is unsupported, very demanding and stress provoking, sleep disturbance is greater, with women experiencing insomnia, frequent awakenings and light sleep. The article discusses the implications of inadequate welfare provision in Italy, which increases women's unpaid domestic caring work resulting in adverse effects on sleep quality and their overall well being.

Gender Roles and Women's Sleep in Mid and Later Life: a Quantitative Approach

Sara Arber, Jenny Hislop, Marcos Bote and Robert Meadows
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 3

Abstract: Women in mid and later life report particularly poor quality sleep. This article suggests a sociologically-informed quantitative approach to teasing out the impact of women's roles and relationships on their sleep, while also taking into account women's socio-economic characteristics and health status. This was accomplished through analysis of the UK Women's Sleep Survey 2003, based on self-completion questionnaires from a national sample of 1445 women aged over 40. The article assesses the ways in which three central aspects of women's gender roles: the night-time behaviours of their partners, night-time behaviours of their children, and night-time worries – impact on women's sleep, while also considering how disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances and poor health may compromise women's sleep. Using bivariate analysis followed by hierarchical multiple regression models, we examine the relative importance of different aspects of women's gender roles. The key factors implicated in the poor sleep quality of midlife and older women are their partner's snoring, night-time worries and concerns, poor health status (especially experiencing pain at night), disadvantaged socio-economic status (especially having lower educational qualifications) and for women with children, their children coming home late at night.

A Bed of Roses or a Bed of Thorns? Negotiating the Couple Relationship Through Sleep

Jenny Hislop
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 2

Abstract: The convention in Western societies of partners sharing a bed is symbolic of their status as a couple, their commitment to the relationship, and their desire for shared intimacy. Yet for many couples, incompatibility as sleeping partners may threaten to undermine romantic notions of the double bed. This paper draws on in-depth interview and audio diary data from research into sleep in couples aged 20-59 (N=40) to examine how couples negotiate the spatial, temporal and relational dimensions of the sleeping environment. The paper contends that the management of tensions inherent in the sleeping relationship plays a key role in framing the couple identity over time, as well as reinforcing the gendered roles, power relationships and inequalities which underpin everyday life.

Editors' Introduction: Gender, Sleep and the Life Course

Sara Arber, Jenny Hislop and Simon Williams
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 19

Abstract: [No abstract]

Identifying the Third Agers: An Analysis of British Retirees' Leisure Pursuits

Stella Chatzitheochari and Sara Arber
Sociological Research Online 16 (4) 3

Abstract: Despite the recent theoretical focus on the emergence of the Third Age as a period of fulfilment and an ongoing engagement with an active leisure lifestyle, there is a dearth of quantitative studies on how older people spend their time. Few studies of later life capitalise on time-use surveys, which constitute the most widely employed and accurate methodology for collecting data on everyday life. This article analyses data from the 2000 UK Time Use Survey in order to operationalise the concept of the Third Age and test theoretical propositions regarding the irrelevance of social divisions in the formation of an active leisure lifestyle after retirement. The analysis focuses on a subsample of 1615 people over the age of 64. An index of active leisure activities is constructed in order to estimate the proportion of third agers amongst British retirees. Logistic regression models are specified to examine the relative influence of socio-demographic characteristics on the probability of a person being a third ager. Strong effects of structural factors and health are found, which do not support arguments suggesting a minor influence of social context in lifestyle choices after retirement. 'Active' ageing appears to be the province of those who are culturally and materially advantaged, and it is the healthy, educated, upper-class and middle-class men that are more likely to engage in a Third Age leisure lifestyle.