Sleep Stories and the Science of Sleep

Roundtable event at Durham Book Festival 2021

Saturday 9 October, 8-9pm BST (available to watch on demand until 31st October)

With Durham Book Festival, we have commissioned leading British writers Salena Godden, Jenn Ashworth and Andrew McMillan to each write and record an exclusive short story inspired by the theme of sleep. These stories will be released as a podcast series and we will launch the first in our series – an exclusive short story from Salena Godden – at this event. Find out more about “Sleep Stories” here.

This roundtable discussion will delve into the science and culture of sleep. Dr Diletta De Cristofaro is joined by Salena Godden whose debut novel, Mrs Death Misses Death is shortlisted for the 2021 Gordon Burn Prize, Jason Ellis, Professor in Psychology and the Director of the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research, and Dr Erik Hoel, a neuroscientist and author of The Revelations.

The speakers will discuss the rewards and challenges of engaging with sleep in creative writing, sleep and sleep disorders in our hyperconnected and restless world, a theory of the neural purpose of dreaming that has striking resonances with the purposes of fiction, and much more. Further information here.

Watch a video collecting highlights of the conversation:

Talk at MEETmeTONIGHT 2021

An online public talk for the Italian edition of the European Researchers’ Night

The talk will be in Italian and will take place on 24th September, 15:40-16pm CEST.

Nel talk “Il sonno è in crisi? Che cosa ci dice la cultura contemporanea” Diletta De Cristofaro (PhD), esplorerà come il sonno è rappresentato nella cultura contemporanea, tra letteratura, film, saggistica, e apps, e discuterà, attraverso questi riferimenti culturali, la cosiddetta crisi del sonno, cioè, l’idea che nella società contemporanea non dormiamo abbastanza. 

You can now watch the recording:

Or, if you prefer, the talk is also available as podcast.

Sleep Stories at Durham Book Festival 2021

An exclusive commission inspired by the project

We are delighted to be working with three leading British writers on this series of podcasts inspired by the theme of sleep. Durham Book Festival, Northumbria University, and Politecnico di Milano (Italy) have co-commissioned exclusive short stories from poet and author, Salena Godden whose debut novel, Mrs Death Misses Death is shortlisted for the 2021 Gordon Burn Prize, award-winning poet Andrew McMillan whose latest collection is pandemonium and acclaimed novelist Jenn Ashworth, whose latest novel is Ghosted.

Each podcast will be introduced by Dr Diletta De CristofaroProfessor Jason Ellis and Dr Erik Hoel, who will explore the science and culture of sleep. Find out more at their roundtable event on Saturday 9 October. Tickets here.

The first podcast will be released on Saturday 9 October and subsequent episodes will be released on Saturday 16 and Saturday 23 October.


All episodes are now available to listen to here.

Making a Being Human Café

Forty Winks Café as case study for organising a successful Being Human Festival Café

In this case study for Being Human Festival, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities, Dr Diletta De Cristofaro looks back on Forty Winks Café, held in November 2020 as part of the Festival. Read Diletta’s insights into organising a Being Human Café and her advice on making online events welcoming and participatory here

You can watch the recording of Forty Winks Café here.

Making Sleep: New Insights for a New Public Health?

On 7-8 July 2021, Prof Jason Ellis and Dr Diletta De Cristofaro will be speaking at “Making Sleep: New Insights for a New Public Health?“, an online workshop at IAS, University of Surrey.

The workshop will bring together scholars and practitioners to debate and discuss how we might move beyond traditional confines and work towards a new national sleep strategy.  

Check out the programme here.

A report and a short video of the event is now available here.

Public Lecture at The Lit&Phil

On 10th June 2021, Dr Diletta De Cristofaro will deliver an online public lecture at The Lit&Phil

The lecture, “Are We in a Sleep Crisis? Perspectives from Contemporary Culture”, explored representations of sleep in contemporary culture and the so-called sleep crisis, namely the idea that contemporary society is sleep-deprived.

The Lit&Phil is Newcastle’s literary and philosophical society. Find out more here.


You can now catch up with the recorded event:

Blog Post in The Polyphony

December 2020: Dr Diletta De Cristofaro introduces the project in The Polyphony, Conversations Across the Medical Humanities

In this post Diletta De Cristofaro introduces her Wellcome Trust project ‘Writing the Sleep Crisis’ and discusses sleep deprivation and speculative fiction that imagines the future end of sleep. The post also looks back on Forty Winks Café, the project’s inaugural event at Being Human Festival 2020, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities.

Read the full post in The Polyphony.

Picture credit: Insomnia. Stephen Magrath. CC0 1.0 Universal