2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Sarah Barnes

Georgia Institute of Technology
Sleep performance is the new performance:  Sleep positivity in sport

This paper investigates the growth of a promotional sleep culture within high performance sport. Discussions about sleep in sport are not new. However, what is novel is the presence of biomedical discourses, sleep technologies, and a commercial sleep industry that positions sleep as something that can and should be maximized in the daily pursuit of athletic performance. This paper is framed by the cultural studies of sport literatures, and by literature from critical studies of sleep. I present research on several high profile sleep-optimizing technology companies and argue that contrary to popular, scientific, and corporate rhetoric, the advancement of sleep-friendly approaches in elite sport is not, as might be assumed, simply a benevolent, athlete-friendly development. A promotional sleep culture puts into circulation highly persuasive forms of disciplinary power and normalizes growing levels of surveillance and efforts to control elite athletes’ behaviour and bodies. I push myself to consider how the mingling of a promotional sleep culture with the practices and values of high performance sport might shape public perceptions of sleep-related problems and the types of solutions that might be offered in response to them.