Sleeping Time is an online application that gives the approximate sleeping schedule of Twitter users, basing its calculations on their periods of downtime from the social networking site. A quick survey of some notable tweeters reveals that Barack Obama's sleep schedule is 1am-8am, Oprah Winfrey's is 12am-7am, whilst the Dalai Lama's is 9pm-5am. Are these approximations at all accurate? There's really no way of knowing, and in any case It probably doesn't matter. What's intriguing about the site is not the information -- or conjecture -- it contains, but rather the assumption underpinning it, which is that social networking now pervades our lives to the extent that "being on Twitter" has become synonymous with "being awake". If we are not tweeting (or Facebooking, or GooglePlusing) then we are "asleep" socially, if not biologically. Also intriguing is the question of whether high-profile Twitter users are at all conscious of the story that their online behaviour tells about their (virtual) sleeping habits. Given that the online presence of eminent politicians and celebrities is presumably managed and scripted by teams of proxies, it would be interesting to know how much thought these ghostwriters give to scripting an appropriate virtual "sleep life" for their illustrious employers. To take the examples given above, Obama's sleeping hours seem broadly appropriate for America's commander-in-chief. As for the Dalai Lama, his early bedtime is very much in keeping with his status as the world's most famous ascetic -- but it's good to see that he enjoys a full eight hours like the rest of us.
In an event specially designed for the Salisbury International Arts Festival, the New York-based singer-songwriter Joanna Wallfisch and the Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto will perform an hour of music, words and story inspired by the world of sleep and dreams. Click here for further details.
The National Sleep Foundation (U.S.) today announced its new official journal, Sleep Health, which aspires to being "the premier journal serving the scientific and academic research fields dedicated to better understanding the health benefits of sleep."
An article on the BBC News website about the potentially disastrous health effects of "living against" one's body clock. Oxford Professor Russell Foster observes that "We are the supremely arrogant species; we feel we can abandon four billion years of evolution and ignore the fact that we have evolved under a light-dark cycle."
In his personal choice of the "top 10 overlooked novels" in world literature, John Sutherland gives pride of place to one of the great novels of somnolence, Ivan Goncharov's Oblomov (1859), the tragic-comic story of an apathetic Russian land-owner and his lifelong addiction to bed and sleep. Oblomov's long-suffering friends diagnose him with a case of chronic and ultimately incurable "Oblomovitis," but twenty-first-century readers -- especially those who've had enough of the 24/7 society -- may not be so quick to pathologize the supremely languorous lifestyle of Goncharov's hero.
On 7-8 May 2014, the University of Bristol will be hosting two inter-related events on sleep: a one-day conference on literature and sleep, and an interdisciplinary roundtable on sleep studies. The full programme for both events is now available here.