Sociologists at University of Surrey have been pioneering empirical research on the sociology of sleep since 2001. Research has included a recently completed EU-funded study on Sleep in Ageing Women, an ESRC funded research on Couples and Sleep, a four year ESRC funded project Sleep in Ageing (SomnIA) and an EU Marie Curie Research Training Network on ‘The biomedical and sociological effects of sleep restriction'.
Despite sleep being commonly viewed as a non-social, physiologically determined act, a major theme within all of our work is that how we sleep, when we sleep, where we sleep, and with whom we sleep, are all influenced by social, cultural and historical factors. The investigation of these influences and the ways in which they manifest themselves within the meanings, methods, motives and management of sleep contribute both to our understanding of the sleep/wake cycle and how social factors are implicated in poor or disrupted sleep. Further to this, it also provides a new window on social processes and social relations across the public/private divide, for example revealing hitherto unrecognised gender inequalities between couples and within households.
The Sociology of Sleep group at Surrey have a particular interest in ageing, sleep and gender, and are linked to the Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender (CRAG). We provide a supportive and intellectually stimulating research environment, with a number of students currently undertaking their doctoral research within the group. Existing collaborations with Professor Debra Skene and colleagues in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, and involvement with the Surrey Sleep Research Centre (SSRC), University of Surrey, add a multi-disciplinary dimension to this environment.
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