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

Project’s phases

The project’s first phase (September 2020-August 2021), focussing on the analysis of sleep in contemporary literary culture, was funded by the Wellcome Trust (Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science) and based at Northumbria University’s Humanities Department, UK.

The project’s second phase (September 2021-present), focussing on sleep, technology, and digital culture, is 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.