Writing the

Sleep Crisis

Exploring representations of
sleep in contemporary culture.

Picture credit: Insomnia. Stephen Magrath. CC0 1.0 Universal


This research project explores how sleep, and lack thereof, is represented in contemporary writings across fiction, non-fiction, and digital culture. It’s the first study to analyse cultural engagements with the sleep crisis, namely, the sense that contemporary society is profoundly sleep-deprived.

“Writing the Sleep Crisis” is led by Dr Diletta De Cristofaro. It is currently funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement 892459, and based at Politecnico di Milano, Italy. The project also involves collaborations with Northumbria University, UK, where it was based between July 2020 and August 2021 funded by the Wellcome Trust’s Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science.

Sleep Stories

An Exclusive Commission

Durham Book Festival 2021

Featured Event

“Are We in a Sleep Crisis? Perspectives from Contemporary Culture” – A talk at The Lit&Phil by Dr Diletta De Cristofaro, June 2021

Picture credit: Insomnia. Stephen Magrath. CC0 1.0 Universal


Dr Diletta De Cristofaro

Principal Investigator on “Writing the Sleep Crisis”

Prof Simona Chiodo

Full Professor of Philosophy at Politecnico di Milano

Prof Katy Shaw

Professor of Contemporary Writings at Northumbria University

Prof Jason Ellis

Professor in Psychology at Northumbria University

Featured Publication

“Writing the Sleep Crisis”, The Polyphony: Conversations Across the Medical Humanities, December 2020

In this post in The Polyphony, Diletta De Cristofaro introduces the project and discusses sleep deprivation and speculative fiction that imagines the future end of sleep.


Upcoming talk at The Sociability of Sleep’s Sleep Salons

On 23rd March, 12-1:30 pm ET, Dr Diletta De Cristofaro will be giving a talk about “Writing Sleep”. This salon juxtaposes literary-critical explorations of sleep in contemporary fiction wi…

Sleep Stories Episode Three: Encroach by Andrew McMillan

The third and final episode of “Sleep Stories”, a podcast series co-commissioned in collaboration with Durham Book Festival is now available. “Encroach” is an exclusive short story, inspired by the th…

Sleep Stories Episode Two: The Night Watch by Jenn Ashworth

The second episode of “Sleep Stories”, a podcast series co-commissioned in collaboration with Durham Book Festival is now available. “The Night Watch” is an exclusive short story, inspired by the them…

Follow the Project

Get in Touch

Email Dr Diletta De Cristofaro:


Did you know our Fall Salons are now online? It's true! 🙌🎉
1. Social Lives of Sleep: @M_Wolf_Meyer + @AlcantaraPhD
2. Future (History of) Sleep: Kroker + Reiss
3. Traumatic Sleep: Nudelman + @juditeblanc
4. Controlling Dreams: @DrZdreams + Solomonova

🔍🎞️ So grateful that people are adding incredible finds to our Sleep Disorders in Film & TV Database! Please add examples you see in popular movies or TV shows here, we plan to also acknowledge those who submitted responses when we publish: https://project-sleep.com/sleep-disorders-in-film-tv-database/

The recording of yesterday's FANTASTIC Confabulations event What is "lived experience"? with @danieljayregan & Chris Millard is now available to watch on our website (until the end of January 2022): https://youtu.be/CAODtcgl_GQ

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