Occhat, OTalk

#Occhat 27th March 2012 Sleep as an occupation

#occhat – Sleep as an Occupation

Date: 27/03/2012  Host: @ChrisMHOT

Blog Post  –  Transcript  

Following on from the end of a previous discussion when several participants mentioned how their young children caused disturbed sleep the sub

ject of sleep as an occupation was proposed for this evening’s #occhat.

There appears to be little written about this subject in th

e OT literature, but one particularly interesting reference is:

Green, A. (2008) ‘Sleep, Occupation and the Passage of Time’ British Journal of Occupational Therapy 71 (8) pp. 339-347.

A brief summary of the main questions is presented here. For further details you are encouraged to read the full transcript of the conversation, which can be found here.

Once again many thanks to all who participated in what turned out to be another thought provoking discussion.



The opening question of the session was: is sleep an occupation?




Yes, sleep is an occupation because it’s an essential activity of daily living             

I think sleep is massively overlooked within physical health, but less so within mental health. What do others think?




it’s important, since it provides energy for us to engage in other occupations. 


If it isn’t (I think it is) it’s certainly an enabler or barrier to other occupations 



I haven’t given this thought before, but after reading about it, I think it is.




I’ve always thought of it as impacting on and being impacted by occupations but not as an occupation, reconsidered now though             

The article has got me thinking that it is and that perhaps our definitions of occupation have missed this



I think sleep probably is an occupation, problem is in West we equate occupation with doing? is sleep doing? 

but I think like we all seem to be saying good sleep is fundamental to health

Following on from the idea in western society that occupation has become equated with doing, the next question was:

Is sleep doing?


Well!!! I would see prep for sleep and managing disturbed sleep would perhaps be more our focus as they are the doing bits 

It’s about patterns of occupation and where sleep fits in 




 we allocate time to sleep, as we do with everything else. and there are things that can impact sleep, just as other activities



 Sleep causes imbalance – if somebody has ongoing issues with it then it should be addressed before it leads to fatigue

Amongst the points made in response to the last question was sleep as part of a pattern of occupation. This left the question:

How does sleep “fit in” with this pattern?


interesting you say sleep “fits in” in modern society it is expected to fit round our busy lives 


yes and our routines are often in conflict with supporting sleep 


fitting sleep in ‘leisure’ in OT models (eg: OPMA) and as an intrapersonal activity makes sense


article in Huff Post suggesting that disturbed sleep is the norm for our physiology 

Another way of discussing occupation and sleep was raised by the question:

Is sleep self-care, leisure or productivity?


If sleep is an occupation, where does it fit within self-care, leisure and productivity? I’d say self-care, what do others think?Categories are interlinked, if we don’t engage in self-care it is more difficult to be productive



yes I think it has been mentioned as self care in a sleep manual that christiansen and baum 2005 refer to. (Christiansen, C and Baum, C (2005) the complexity of human occupation IN Christiansen, C, Baum, C, Bass-Haugen J eds Occupational therapy: performance, participation and well being 3rd ed, pp. 2-23)


I was thinking leisure, but yeah, self-care


Self-care and possibly leisure for some. I like a good doze personally  

Not sure it fits in as leisure for all. Leisure often seen as adjunct/not as important so neglected



I will say self-care and productivity (for most people)


I think all because I need a certain amount of sleep to be productive.



sleep is restorative, we all engage in other activities to do just this too

A further question about the nature of sleep and occupation was:

If an occupation requires skills, what skills does sleeping require?


 Th00ha time management, calming oneself.. ?  

being able to prioritize and recognise when sleep is need is also important then!


Individual00 I think sleep hygiene can be seen as a skill. Not required by everyone but if you have sleep issues it can be essential 
gilliancrossley  I would say the ability to wind down, get yourself ready and to bed, in a comfortable position 
kirstyes Sure the parents can help here. Initiation for 1 

knowledge about positioning, preparation routines. Problem solving when cant sleep or wake up in night.


BillWongOT discipline is another

Th00ha asked:

What about sleep patterns? does it matter when we sleep, etc? 


Individual00 Yes, it does matter when we sleep because of how light and social cues affect melatonin production and sleep
charl885 I believe a lifetime of shiftwork (including nights) has been shown to shorten lives by approx 10 years, so perhaps it does!



And finally:


Anyone care to pose some questions that occupational science should be answering about sleep?



I think it would be interesting to look at link between sleep and other occs, does sleep enable occ and vice versa? 

Yes I think exploring the meaning of sleep would be another interesting question 


kirstyes Is it better to sleep alone/share a bed with another!  

And meaning of dreaming. Does everyone dream? Remember or not? Anyone ever not?


1 thought on “#Occhat 27th March 2012 Sleep as an occupation”

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