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The Sleeping Lives of Children and Teenagers: Night-Worlds and Arenas of Action
By: Jo Moran-Ellis, Susan Venn, Volume 12 (5)
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
By: Susan Venn, Volume 12 (5)
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
By: Emanuela Bianchera, Sara Arber, Volume 12 (5)
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.