Disturbing sleep and sleepfulness during recovery from substance dependence in residential rehabilitation settings

Sarah Joan Nettleton, Robert Meadows, Joanne Neale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is evidence that poor sleep mitigates recovery from substance dependence and increases risk of relapse. However, to date research literature is located within biomedical, clinical and psychological paradigms. To complement the extant work, this article offers a sociological exploration of sleep in the context of recovery from dependence on alcohol and/or other drugs. Drawing on qualitative data generated through interviews with 28 men and women living in residential rehabilitation settings in England, we provide a detailed exploration of sleep practices focusing on how these are enacted throughout the night. We offer the concept of ‘sleepfulness’ to suggest that sleep should not be understood simply as being other than awake; rather it involves a myriad of associations between diverse actants – human and non-human – that come to ‘fill up’, enable and assemble sleep. Together these empirical insights and conceptualisations disturb the ontology of sleep and point to the fulsome dimensions of the category.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)784-798
Number of pages15
JournalSociology of Health and Illness: A Journal of Medical Sociology
Issue number5
Early online date5 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2016, Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • sleep
  • recovery
  • drug use/substance abuse

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