Since September 2020, I’ve been working on “Writing the Sleep Crisis”, a research project funded by the Wellcome Trust (Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science) and the European Commission (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship). The project explores how sleep, and lack thereof, is represented in contemporary writings across fiction, non-fiction, and digital culture.
Sleep experts are divided on whether our society is actually suffering from the crisis of poor sleep my project’s title refers to. Yet the discourse of contemporary society as chronically sleep-deprived dominates cultural production. My research analyses this discourse and what it tells us about our conceptions of sleep, health – especially mental health – the temporal rhythms of day-to-day life in the twenty-first century, and the pressures these rhythms exercise on us.
In The Polyphony, you can read “Writing the Sleep Crisis“, a short piece introducing the project and discussing speculative fiction that imagines the future end of sleep. This essay also looks back on Forty Winks Café, the project’s inaugural event at Being Human Festival 2020, now available as a recording on YouTube.
My research on the sleep crisis was featured in “Sleep Tight“, an article by Kelly Rose Bradford in Costco Connection magazine.