Performance Consumptions, Sleep Management and Risk Perceptions

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 6:00 PM
Room: F205
Oral Presentation
Elsa PEGADO , Lusophone University of Humanities and Technologies (ULHT), Lisbon, Portugal
Hélder RAPOSO , University Institute of Lisbon CIES-IUL, Lisbon, Portugal

This paper aims to discuss the management of sleep as a focus for performance investments among youth, through the consumption of pharmaceuticals or other therapeutic products, such as natural medicines or supplements. In this context, sleep plays a particular role as a depharmaceuticalized resource to achieve a certain level of (cognitive and/or physical) performance. While being an object of normative discourses about “healthy lifestyles”, sleep is simultaneously presented as a feature that can be artificially optimized through performance consumptions that place it at the frontier between treatment and enhancement. The investments that shape consumption patterns directed at sleep management not only reveal particular risk gradations attributed to therapeutic resources for those purposes, but they also express forms of management whose instrumentality organizes differentiated consumption practices, which are context-dependent.

Our analysis is supported by the results of an ongoing research about therapeutic consumptions to enhance physical, intellectual and social performance, among young people in Portugal (aged between 18 and 29). A mixed-method approach was used, including a nation-wide survey (n=1500), followed by semi-structured interviews (about 50 individuals, selected from the questionnaire respondents). On the one hand, the survey originated a set of quantitative indicators about youth sleep patterns, consumptions and predispositions to consume sleep management products, as well as perceptions of risks associated with them and ways of dealing with those risks. It also revealed how these indicators were socially distributed (in terms of gender, education level, occupation and scientific area of study). On the other hand, the interviews enabled the qualitative exploration of the specific purposes that lead to the consumption of products to help one sleep or stay awake, and provided information about the manner in which young people weight between risk and effectiveness and between the immediate and the deferred benefits regarding these consumptions.