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Theorising Sleep Practices and Later Life: Moving to Sheltered Housing
By: Eileen Fairhurst, Volume 12 (5)
Abstract: This paper re-analyses data from a study of older people and sheltered housing which combined textual analysis of professional discourse with interviews. There were only two references salient to 'sleep' in that paper and I offered no analytic comment upon them. At that time, then, sleep as a sociologically interesting topic, was, for me a taken for granted matter. It is that taken for grantedness that is examined here. On being invited to contribute to this special issue, I went back to the original data and interrogated it for 'sleep'. I realised that, with this different concern, the texts and interviews contained much more about the 'doing' of sleep in later life than I had appreciated, especially where, when and how sleeping practices occur. Sleeping 'upstairs' or 'downstairs', in a single- or double-bed and on which side of the bed were all matters of relevance when older people were considering a move to sheltered housing. Older people's own sleeping practices are contrasted with those offered in texts produced by architects designing sheltered housing. The paper concludes by considering the methodological implications of re-analysing research materials for emerging sociological topics and by giving pointers to future research on sleep practices in later life.
Who Are You Sleeping With? the Construction of Heteronormativity in Stories About Sleep in British Newspapers
By: Pam Lowe, Sharon Boden, Simon Williams, Clive Seale, Deborah Steinberg, Volume 12 (5)
Abstract: In popular British understanding the terms 'sleeping' or 'slept' are often used to mean sex, and (hetero)sex is seen as crucial to sustaining intimate relationships. This study of UK newspapers coverage shows that stories about sleep and sleeping arrangements can be seen to (re)produce heteronormativity through focusing on the (heterosexual) 'marital bed'. The 'marital bed' is constructed as both the physical and symbolic centre of successful heterosexual relationships. Moreover, the maintenance of this symbolic space is gendered with women given primary responsibility. The focus on the 'marital bed' helps to exclude non-heterosexuals from the idea of intimate relationships, by effectively silencing their experiences of sleep and sleeping arrangements. Normative ideas about male and female (hetero)sexualities are drawn on to undermine women's right to refuse sex within the martial bed. In addition, the term 'sleep-sex' is used to reconceptualise stories of rape, minimising the victim's experiences and absolve the perpetrator from full responsibility for the assault. By exploring these articles we can see both how the representation of the organisation of sleep is produced through heteronormativity, as well as how heteronormativity determines whose accounts of sleeping are prioritised.
'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.
Gender Roles and Women's Sleep in Mid and Later Life: a Quantitative Approach
By: Sara Arber, Jenny Hislop, Marcos Bote, Robert Meadows, Volume 12 (5)
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.
Editors' Introduction: Gender, Sleep and the Life Course
By: Sara Arber, Jenny Hislop, Simon Williams, Volume 12 (5)
Abstract: [No abstract]