Understanding women's sleep management: beyond medicalization-healthicization?
Article first published online: 3 NOV 2003
Sociology of Health & Illness
Volume 25, Issue 7, pages 815–837, November 2003
How to Cite
Hislop, J. and Arber, S. (2003), Understanding women's sleep management: beyond medicalization-healthicization?. Sociology of Health & Illness, 25: 815–837. doi: 10.1046/j.1467-9566.2003.00371.x
- Issue published online: 3 NOV 2003
- Article first published online: 3 NOV 2003
- women's sleep management;
- social context
Abstract This paper addresses sleep, which to date has been a neglected area within the sociology of health and illness. We explore the extent to which the concepts of medicalization and healthicization provide appropriate models for understanding the management of women's sleep disruption. The prescription of sleeping pills remains as an indicator of the medicalization of sleep, while the trend towards the healthicization of sleep as part of healthy lifestyle practice is reflected in the increased focus of the media, pharmaceutical and complementary health care industries on sleep. The paper analyses qualitative data on women aged 40 and over to argue that the medicalization-healthicization framework fails to encapsulate a complete understanding of how women manage sleep disruption within the social context of their lives. It suggests that by looking inside the world of women's sleep we uncover a hidden dimension of self-directed personalized activity which plays a key role in women's response to sleep disruption. We propose an alternative model for the management of women's sleep which incorporates a core of personalised activity, linked to strategies associated with healthicization and medicalization.