A recent piece in The Independent on research by the Oxford sleep expert Professor Colin Espie on the impact of smelly, poorly ventilated bedrooms on the sleep -- and general well-being -- of teenagers.
The photographer William Green has produced a lovely sequence of shots of Tokyo taxi drivers asleep in their cars. "It seems to be a culture where, unlike the West, you're allowed to be asleep in public," says Green. "In the UK that's only OK if you're pissed or really knackered."
A piece by Andy Wright in Atlas Obscura on media coverage of people who have slept through momentous or dangerous events -- from earthquakes and carjackings to abductions and naval battles.
The latest on the mysterious sleeping sickness that has been affecting villagers in Kalachi, northern Kazakhstan, for the past two years.
An article on the latest wireless sleep-montoring gadget, the "Sense", which not only tracks sleep also enables users to correlate their sleeping patterns with changes in ambient noise, light, temperature and humidity.
An article in the New York Times discusses the many merits of the "Paleo lifestyle," including when it comes to sleep. "Ms. Tam, a confessed television addict, decided to cut out all electronic devices after 8 p.m. If she has to check her iPhone, she wears amber goggles to block the blue-spectrum light that she believes interferes with her circadian rhythms. Next, she turned her bedroom into the equivalent of a Lascaux cave, removing all clocks (her two young sons serve as her morning alarm, she said) and installing blackout window inserts. The move paid dividends. 'I used to envy how my young two boys would fall asleep almost immediately after their heads hit the pillow,' Ms. Tam said. 'At dawn, they’d bound out of bed, eager to tell us about the previous night’s dreams. Now, I sleep like them.'”
"It reeked of sleep," says Samson Young, the narrator of Martin Amis's pre-millennial black comedy London Fields (1989), when he arrives at the "Somnopolis" that is London Heathrow Airport. "It reeked of it, and of insomniac worry and disquiet, and of thwarted escape." These words clearly project something of Young's fragile, paranoiac state of mind onto the world around him, yet we can't deny he's onto something in his panicky intuition that airports are, in some important sense, places of sleep as well as hubs of activity. All frequent flyers will know that air travel plays havoc with our body clocks: it can involve unconscionably early starts; it drags us across time-zones with inhuman speed; and it often obliges us to spend hours in transfer lounges with nothing to do but doze fitfully, with half an eye on the clock. Small wonder, then, that airports often seem populated by the somnolent, the jet-lagged and the insomniac.
Nothing could be further from the bleary neo-Gothic nightmares of London Fields than Donna McSherry's colourfully informative website, The Guide to Sleeping in Airports, which has established itself as the essential archive of online wisdom on the best and worst sleeping experiences available to air-travellers today. It now contains close on 9000 user-generated reviews of sleeping facilities, and sleeping experiences, in airports, trains and bus stations worldwide -- not to mention a mischievous gallery of images of airport sleepers, and a dedicated thread of narratives about sleeping in "strange places," from casinos and laundromats to stairwells and parking lots. Samson Young might have enjoyed reading McSherry's website; it's the perfect handbook for somnopolitans everywhere.
One notable casualty of the recent 6.0 magnitude earthquake in northern California, which struck at 3.20am on 24 August, was the sleep of residents in the vicinity of the epicentre in Napa County. Extrapolating from data collected by Californians wearing activity trackers, scientists have estimated that over one million hours of sleep were lost in Napa alone.
Research by scientists at Harvard Medical School, reported in today's Telegraph, shows that astronauts "suffer serious levels of sleep deprivation," averaging in the region of six hours per night (the average American adult gets seven). The effects of microgravity, and the fact that astronauts orbiting the earth will see the sun rise sixteen times per "day," are among the chief culprits for this poor sleep quality. And it has to be said that onboard sleeping conditions can hardly be conducive to the kind of sleep that astronauts might enjoy on terra firma. Here is footage of the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield (famed for his rendition of Bowie's "Space Oddity" on the International Space Station in May 2013) securing himself in his "sleep pod" -- a sort of man-sized baby-grow suspended in what looks like a padded confessional -- and "floating/in a most peculiar way."
A team of researchers led by Dr Christoph Nissen of the University Medical Centre, Freiburg, have been studying sleeping patterns in a Stone Age-style environment. Five volunteers spent two months in a settlement in southern Germany, living in huts, gathering their own food, and sleeping on brushwood and furs. They had no electricity, phones, running water, torches or candles. According to data collected from their sleep-tracking armbands, the participants slept an average of 1.8 hours more each night than they ordinarily would have done. According to Nissen and his team, whose findings have now been published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, these observations provide "evidence for the long-held belief that the absence of modern living conditions is associated with an earlier sleep phase and prolonged sleep duration."