“Writing the Sleep Crisis” explores how sleep, and lack thereof, is represented in contemporary writings across fiction, non-fiction, and digital culture. The project is led by Dr Diletta De Cristofaro.

Sleep experts are divided on whether or not our society is actually suffering from the crisis of poor sleep the project’s title refers to. Yet the discourse of contemporary society as profoundly sleep-deprived dominates cultural production. This project is the first to analyse cultural engagements with this discourse and what they tell 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.

“Writing the Sleep Crisis” involves collaborations between Northumbria University’s Humanities Department, UK, the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research (Psychology), and Politecnico di Milano’s META (Social Sciences and Humanities for Science and Technology), Italy. Find out more about the people involved here.

Project’s phases

Between September 2020 and August 2021, and from September 2022 to August 2024, the project is funded by the Wellcome Trust (Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science) and based at Northumbria University’s Humanities Department, UK. During this phase, Dr Diletta De Cristofaro attracted further funding from Wellcome (Research Enrichment Public Engagement Grant; September 2022 to April 2024) for a public engagement project exploring the lived experience of sleep disorders in collaboration with the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research, The Sleep Charity, and artist and creative producer Chiara Dellerba.

From September 2021 to August 2022, the project was 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’s META, Italy.