I sleep, because we sleep: A synthesis on the role of culture in sleep behavior research

C. O. Airhihenbuwa, J. I. Iwelunmor, C. J. Ezepue, N. J. Williams, G. Jean-Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: The aim of this study was to synthesize the literature on the cultural aspects of sleep and their relevance to behavioral sleep research. Methods: A narrative synthesis of the existing literature on sleep was conducted with a focus on its biological, sociological, political, and anthropological aspects. This synthesis was guided by the PEN-cultural model, developed by the primary author. Results: The findings highlight the cross-cultural contexts within which people sleep and the role of varied sleeping arrangements in influencing sleep behavior and perspectives. Furthermore, the contexts in which sleep occurs, coupled with the influence of the family, and the positive aspects of sleep helped illustrate why cultural aspects of sleep are vital for a broader understanding of sleep. Discussion: The authors conclude by highlighting the need to integrate studies on the biological, sociological, and political aspects of sleep. Our examination of the literature strongly suggests that careful assessment of epidemiological and clinical sleep data should consider the cultural aspects of sleep as well as the context in which sleep occurs, the role of the family, and positive aspects of sleep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
JournalSleep Medicine
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Culture
  • Global
  • PEN-3
  • Sleep behavior research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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