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 a Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science and based at Northumbria University, UK. The project also involves collaborations with Politecnico di Milano, Italy, where it was based between September 2021 and August 2022 funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement 892459.

Understanding and Reimagining Sleep and Its Disorders

A creative workshop series and art exhibition exploring the lived experience of sleep

Image credit: Chiara Dellerba

If you are experiencing difficulties with your sleep and have connections to the Newcastle area, sign up for the workshop series by clicking the button below and join us.

The hybrid workshop series (February-April 2023), supported by a Wellcome Research Enrichment – Public Engagement grant and designed in partnership with The Sleep Charity, will discuss the impact of sleep disorders in our lives and will produce creative responses about sleep. These responses will then be published as part of an online art exhibition on this website.

Sleep Stories

An Exclusive Commission

Durham Book Festival 2021

Featured Past 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

The counterproductive promise of a “sleep goal”

The Week, March 2022

In this opinion piece, Diletta De Cristofaro explores how the fixation of sleep-tracking devices and relaxation apps on sleep goals ironically ends up devaluing sleep.


Blog post for the Society of Occupational Medicine

What can cultural production tell us about sleep and work? In this invited blog post for the Society…

World Sleep Day roundtable at the Sociability of Sleep

Hot Takes: Sleep Equity and Climate Change For World Sleep Day, Diletta De Cristofaro will be modera…

Essay in New Humanist

“What Dreams May Come” This review of Alice Vernon’s Night Terrors: Troubles Sleep and t…

Follow the Project

Get in Touch

Email Dr Diletta De Cristofaro:


What can cultural production tell us about #sleep and #work? - read our new guest blog by @tedilta http://ow.ly/lOMw50NtJZO @writing_sleep @wellcometrust @NorthumbriaUni #occupationalhealth

Load More