Photo by Barbara W., Flickr CC.

Teaching Exercises: Our Hard Days’ Nights

Thanksgiving is almost upon our U.S. readers, and whether it’s the long drives, visiting a childhood home, couch dozing after a winter walk, or getting plain old turkey-tuckered, we’re already dreaming of the glorious cat-naps that so often accompany the holiday.

In our Winter 2011 issue, Simon J. Williams invited us to “sleep on this: sleep is a highly social endeavor, posing a puzzle and a prism through which to view life in the wired era” in his article, “Our Hard Days’ Nights.” He wrote, “How we sleep, when we sleep, where we sleep, with whom we sleep, and the meanings we accord our sleep are all social, cultural, and historical matters that demand (and repay) our attention. …[Sleep] constitutes a prime example of how we might profitably link the private realm of “personal troubles” to broader public issues of “social structure,” particularly at a time when the notion of a “well-slept” society appears to be an increasingly distant era.”

This article is free to read, download, and share from SAGE.

It is also included in the Contexts Reader, 3rd edition, where it’s accompanied by the following classroom review questions:

  1. The author indicates that sleep inequities disadvantage groups who face other social inequities as well. Which groups face barriers to sleep and why?
  2. What does the word medicalization mean, as the author uses it?
  3. What does the author say about the relationship of sleep to labor? Is it different from your ideas about work and rest?

And because Thanksgiving usually comes with a little dessert, we invite you to check out our Fall 2015 issue’s photo essay, “Mumbai Sleeping,” by Dhruv Dhawan, who said, “I began photographing people sleeping in Mumbai in the summer of 2009 to explore the diversity of a universal human experience. I was in awe of my subjects’ ability to use the urban landscape as a bad—most of the people I know cannot sleep with a light on, the sound of traffic, or on an uncomfortable mattress.

Comments 1


January 4, 2023

After reading the article, I realized that sleep has so many problems. It's complicated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *