Developmental Cultural Ecology of Sleep
Commencing with a consideration of adaptive-evolutionary constraints that have shaped the place of sleep in human development, this chapter outlines a bioecocultural model that provides a framework for integration of culture into the study of human development. This model inspired a study of the comparative developmental ecology of sleep that is then summarized in terms of initial insights into cultural patterns and variation in the physical ecology of sleep, and the recognition of sleep as a form of social behavior. The suggestive findings from this cross-cultural survey are followed by results from an empirical investigation of the role of culture in shaping sleep across the life course in a specific society, namely Egypt. Study results showed that cultural factors powerfully structure sleep, accounting for much of the variance in sleep across the life course. This example engages a number of issues regarding the impact of culture change and globalization (schooling, media, family and residential patterns, nutrition) on sleep schedules and consequently on functioning and health. The emerging global literature on these topics is briefly surveyed. A concluding section deploys psychological anthropology to consider the role of cultural models in how sleep is conceptualized and how such models inform behavior and perception, with particular regard to parental behavior.
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