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

Video by North News

Members of the public met with researchers and an artist to talk about the impact of sleep issues. Together, they discussed ways to increase awareness and improve the wellbeing of people who live with sleep disorders, and produced creative responses about sleep. These responses will be published as part of an online exhibition on this website to be launched in November 2023.

The project is supported by a Wellcome Research Enrichment – Public Engagement grant and run in partnership with The Sleep Charity.

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

Quantified Sleep: Sleep-Tracking Technologies and the Reshaping of 21st-Century Subjectivity

Historical Social Research 48.2 (2023): 176-193

In this article, Diletta De Cristofaro and Simona Chiodo situate the rise of everyday sleep-tracking practices within the sleep crisis discourse and explore these practices’ reshaping of 21st-century subjectivity.


Keynote at Somnambulations

Dr Diletta De Cristofaro will be giving a keynote at “Somnambulations 2: Critical Approaches t…

New peer-reviewed article on sleep-tracking

The project’s new article, “Quantified Sleep: Self-Tracking Technologies and the Reshapin…

Sleep and Ageing: reflections on the Reimagining Sleep online workshop

A blog post by Dr James Rákóczi, Research Assistant On Wednesday 19th April 2023, the Understanding …

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