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date: 06 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

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.

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