Sleep as a gendered family affair: Managing snoring and “sentient activities” among men and women

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Drawing upon in-depth interviews with sixty-five Israeli men and women with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, this paper examines the impact and management of snoring within families. While most of the existing literature treats sleep as an individual phenomenon, this paper suggests that snoring makes sleep into a gendered family affair, affecting snorers, their partners, and children, as well as their relationships in and outside the bedroom, as they negotiate sleep issues on a daily and nightly basis. Much of the literature on the gendered dimensions of sleep have found that women subjugate their own sleep needs to those of their significant others because they are the ones engaging in “sentient activity,” a term that refers to the invisible work of worrying and caring about the needs of loved ones. In contrast to this research, this paper provides a more nuanced analysis of the ways in which both men and women engage in “sentient activities” in their management of snoring. While women tended to manage snoring through spatial separation, relocating to a different room, men used temporal separation, coming to bed after their partners fell asleep. Nevertheless, most men and women preferred to continue bed sharing to maintain intimacy and closeness, despite repeated awakenings from snoring noise or from partners’ nudging.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican Sociological Association Annual Meeting 2013
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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