Social Integration During Midlife and Beyond: An Examination of How Social Roles and Work Affect Sleep
Frazier, Cleothia G.
Current research increasingly shows that sleep is an important factor that is associated with a variety of health and well-being outcomes. Guided by role theory, stress process, the life course perspective, and intersectionality, this three-paper dissertation examines how one’s attachment to society through social roles and work have implications for sleep health among adults during mid to late life. Paper One uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Cohort (NLSY79) (N=3,364), to examine the effect of social roles on sleep duration and sleep quality at age 50. Two competing hypotheses are tested – role strain (i.e., multiple roles harm health) and role enhancement (i.e., multiple roles benefit health). Variation by race-gender group status is also investigated. Findings show support for both role strain and role enhancement. There is also evidence that role accumulation is associated with a larger reduction in sleep quality for White men, compared to Black men and women. Paper Two also uses the NLSY79 (N=5,652) to investigate the associations between shift work, depressive symptoms, and self-rated health. This study also considers whether sleep mediates these associations. The results show that working a non-day shift increases the odds of reporting poor self-rated health, but not depressive symptoms. The effect of shift work on depressive symptoms is mediated by hours of sleep during the week and insomnia, but only insomnia mediates the association between shift work and poor self-rated health. Paper Three examines how labor force status and transitions to retirement affect insomnia in older adults. Data used for this study are from waves 2006 and 2014 of the Health and Retirement Study (N=8,556). Findings show that older adults who are retired and who transitioned from part-time to retirement experience increased insomnia compared full-time workers. Moderating effects are found for Black and White women. These findings contribute to a sociological understanding of sleep by elucidating that societal integration contributes to and maintains stratified hierarchies that influence differences in sleep health for adults in midlife and older ages.