Peter Fleming's new book, The Mythology of Work: How Capitalism Persists Despite Itself (Pluto Press, 2015), which examines the ways in which "neoliberal society uses the rituals of work...to maintain the late capitalist class order," looks like essential reading for sleep aficionados. Chapter titles include: "The Factory That Never Sleeps" and "Viral Capitalism in the Bedroom".
In a study of the lifestyle and working habits of 21,000 British workers, researchers at Rand Europe and the University of Cambridge found that "employees who slept for six hours or less a night were significantly less productive than those who slept for seven or eight".
An article on the CBS website reports that the "sleep assistance industry" is worth $32 billion per year.
An article from the LiveScience website speculates on what life would be like if scientists were to develop a "cure" for sleep. Reassuringly, if unsurprisingly, the piece swiftly concludes that things would be worse both on a personal level (health, relationships and well-being would suffer) and at a social/economic level (sales of pillows and duvets would plummet). Probably the most interesting thread in the article is the distinction it draws between busyness and genuine productivity; in a world without sleep, it seems that we'd have more of the former and less of the latter. All of which might lead us to ask a new question: not "What would it be like to live in a world without sleep?" but "What would it be like to live in a world that didn't need to instrumentalize sleep in the name of productivity?".
An informative article from The Atlantic about sleep debt among America's low-income workers. Contrary to the popular perception that high-achieving professionals operate on fewer hours' slumber than ordinary mortals, Olga Khazan reports that it's "people who have the least money who get the least sleep."
A recent article by Simon Williams (Warwick) in the Royal Society of Arts magazine provides an informative overview of the emergence of sleep as a matter of political concern in recent years. The article, entitled 'Counting Sleep', includes some startling number-crunching: in North America there are now over 1000 accredited sleep clinics; the market for sleep aids is worth some $30bn in the U.S. alone; more than 1.5 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide every day; 12% of Britons get by on fewer than six hours' sleep per night. 'The simplest lesson sleep teaches us', Williams concludes, '[is] that our bodies tick to a different clock from that of contemporary capitalism'.
Research in the UK has shown a correlation between affluence and a good night's sleep: 83% of high earners reported that they slept fairly well or very well most nights; a third of unemployed people had regular sleeping problems.