Sleep and Culture

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Sleep is a universal phenomenon. Governed largely by genetic factors, it is “hard wired” into your brain. However, although every person in the world sleeps, there are cultural differences in sleep habits. For example, in some cultures, afternoon naps or siestas are a common practice, even among adults. These different cultural practices may be due to a variety of factors, including current environmental conditions and historic traditions. In this week’s Application, you will explore sleep patterns or practices in at least one culture different from your own, and make comparisons between your experience of sleep and the experiences found among people from different cultures.

To prepare for this assignment:

Review Chapter 15 in the course text, Brain and Behavior, paying attention to environmental factors that influence when and why people sleep.
Think about your own sleep habits and the biological, environmental, and cultural factors that influence them.
Locate and study an article from the Walden Library’s database of journals that describes sleep habits or practices in at least one other culture. For example, the journal Sleep and Biological Rhythms can be accessed via Academic Search Premier; full-text articles are available (if they are more than 12 months old) that describe or review research in the area of sleep cross-culturally. It contains articles such as these:
Harada, T., Takeuchi, H., & Tanoue, A. Epidemiological studies on dreams, sleep habits, and mental symptoms in Japanese junior high students aged 1215 years. Sleep & Biological Rhythms, 4(3), 282285.
Cortesi, F., Giannotti, F., Sebastiani, T., & Vagnoni, C. Sleeping habits in Italian children and adolescents. Sleep & Biological Rhythms, 3(1), 1521.
Think about the similarities and differences between the sleep habits in your culture versus the one represented in the article you selected.
The assignment:

Describe your typical sleep habits over the course of the week. For example, do you sleep longer on weekends than weekdays? Do you get up and go to bed at approximately the same time every day? Do you take naps?
Explain what biological, environmental, and cultural factors you believe influence your sleep habits and why you believe your sleep habits exist as they do.

**** About me: I sleep in late on the weekends and stay up until midnight or later every night. I wake up at 0630 am on weekdays. I stay up late to complete homework, study, clean, catch up on TV shows, research, and spend time with my husband.

Explain whether or not you think your sleep practices are typical for your culture and why.
Briefly summarize the research findings from the article. Who were the participants, what procedure was used to study them, and what were the results?
From the article, what influences appear to have had an influence on sleep patterns or practices? What role do you believe culture plays in those differences? How does the cultural influence in this example compare (similarities and differences) to the cultural influences on sleep in your culture?

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