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."
In an essay focused on present day sleep-aiding gadgets, Patricia Marx alludes to historical efforts to induce slumber: "The ancient Romans smeared mouse fat onto the soles of their feet, and the Lunesta of the Dark Ages was a smoothie made from the gall of castrated boars. Charles Dickens apparently believed it was necessary to position himself in the precise center of a bed that faced exactly north, while the Glasgow Herald advised the worried wakeful to lather up their hair with yellow soap before bedtime, wrap their heads in napkins, rinse in the morning, and repeat every night for two weeks. In 1879, a Canadian medical journal recommended hemlock. Presumably, no repeating was required."
The December 2015 issue of New Inquiry is a special number on sleep -- its contents include a piece by a Aaditya Aggarwal on public sleeping in Mumbai; an investigation of the cultural history of the body clock by Eman Shahata; and a review-article on Jonathan Crary's 24/7 by Erwin Montgomery and Christine Baumgarthuber.
Sleep Health Journal of the National Sleep Foundation is a new, multidisciplinary journal that explores sleep's role in population health and elucidates the social science perspective on sleep and health. Aligned with the National Sleep Foundation's global authoritative, evidence-based voice for sleep health, the journal serves as the foremost publication for manuscripts that advance the sleep health of all members of society.The scope of the journal extends across diverse sleep-related fields, including anthropology, education, health services research, human development, international health, law, mental health, nursing, nutrition, psychology, public health, public policy, fatigue management, transportation, social work, and sociology. The journal welcomes original research articles, review articles, brief reports, special articles, letters to the editor, editorials, and commentaries.
For further information, please visit the journal's website at: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/sleep-health
A piece from The Atlantic on research that has revealed that black Americans enjoy fewer hours of sleep (and a smaller proportion of slow-wave sleep) than white Americans.
A blog by one of the founders of Sleep Cultures on the cultural significance of the only animal to be named after one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
From 14-20 November, the city of Lancaster will play host to After Dark: Sleep and Sleeplessness in the Modern World, a series of talks, film screenings, workshops and public engagement events designed to showcase work by Lancaster University academics in the field of sleep studies. After Dark is part of Being Human, the UK's only nationwide festival of the humanities. For further information, see the After Dark website: http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/beinghuman/events/
Jonathan Crary’s 24/7 Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep (2013) has brought to the attention of many the vital question of the purposes of sleep – a universal experience! Yet, while Crary defends the inviolable nature of sleep, a province that he says capitalism cannot as such exploit, the experience of injured sleep seems to be as universal as sleep itself. Scientific and clinical questioning of injured sleep ranges from the study of sleep’s physiology to the identification of physical environments or habits that prepare or disrupt somnolence. Injured sleep could be seen as a deprivation or an impaired form of wakefulness, a root cause of physical and mental illness, stress, cognitive difficulties with memory, concentration and problem solving, and, in the wider world, as a key factor in decreased productivity and personal or work-related accidents. All these debates are of on-going interest to a wide variety of bio-medical disciplines.
Understanding injured sleep, however, cannot be the work of medical and biological discourses alone. As Marcel Mauss argued in 1934, while sleep is normally seen as a purely biological habit, our sleep unfolds in political, economic, psychological, social and cultural contexts too. Crary has problematized some of the economic questions that sleep evokes but the relationship of these to political, psychological, social and cultural agendas remains to be explored. Since sleep is what Neil Postman has called an invisible technology, ubiquitous and yet elusive, an interdisciplinary approach to its study is all the more urgent.
To what extent, therefore, is injured sleep a political issue in the age of 24/7 global affairs not only for politicians but for citizens? Does sleep need defending in some programmatic way or would that require a political and economic investment that late capitalism is not ready to make? What role does injured sleep play sociologically in the myriad relations – professional, familial, gendered, etc. – that define the individual? What from a psychological view drives sleepers to injure their own sleep? How and why has sleep been injured throughout history and across cultures? Why does the representation of sleep and injured sleep – from the spoken and written word to the fine arts – matter for wider debates about politics, culture and society? What impact do material cultures and technologies have on sleep, and how is sleep injured by them?
The aim of this colloquium will be to consider the reciprocal relations between these many contexts and the biological and clinical study of injured sleep. The conveners invite paper proposals of 250-300 words length along the lines suggested above (or any other related issue) for a one-day colloquium to be held at Aston University on Friday 8TH APRIL 2016.
Please send proposals to one of the following by 31st October:
Sarah Hayes: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Sims: email@example.com
Brian Sudlow: firstname.lastname@example.org
A review of From Sleep, a one-hour 'offshoot' from Max Richter's eight-hour minimalist epic Sleep, a work described by its composer as a "personal lullaby for a frenetic world."
One-day symposium, Lancaster University, Friday 11 September 2015
Organiser: Dr Michael Greaney (Dept. of English & Creative Writing, Lancaster University)
Funded by the Wellcome Trust
Keynote Lecture (Fylde LT1, 9.30am):
Professor Colin Espie (Clinical Neuroscience, University of Oxford): ‘What is Sleep and Why Does it Matter?’
Symposium (FASS Meeting Room 2, 11.30am-6pm): Please visit http://bit.ly/1PWWJu8 where a detailed schedule will shortly be uploaded. Speakers will include:
Dr Sasha Handley (History, University of Manchester); Prof. Hilary Hinds (English & Creative Writing, Lancaster University); Mr Patrick Levy (Philosophy, University of Sussex); Dr Penny Lewis (Psychology, University of Manchester); Dr William Maclehose (History of Science, University College London); Dr Rob Meadows (Sociology, University of Surrey); Dr Brigitte Steger (Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge); Dr Stephen Thomson (English Literature, University of Reading)
Everybody knows that sleep is valuable. No one seriously denies that regular periods of slumber are a worthwhile and indeed indispensable part of what it is to be human. However, accounts of the value of human slumber vary enormously. Proverbially, we know that good sleeping habits make a person "healthy, wealthy and wise" -- which is to say that sleep is deemed to have medical value, economic value, and cognitive value. But by what standard do we measure the relative value of these different kinds of value? Are they seamlessly compatible, or are there tensions, frictions or trade-offs between them? Are these values variable in different social and/or historical contexts? Are the sleep values of a given society always necessarily an expression of its waking priorities? Must sleep always be understood in terms of the services it performs to wakefulness (e.g. as a boost to alertness or daytime productivity) rather than as an end in itself? And might there be something in sleep that resists evaluation --whether in aesthetic, ethical, financial, functionalist or utilitarian terms? “Sleep Values” will address these questions by inviting researchers from a range of different disciplines to reflect on what their research tells us about the value of sleep.
Attendance at the symposium is free but places are limited. If you would like to attend, please email email@example.com to reserve a place. Please indicate in your message if you would like to attend the keynote lecture (Fylde LT1), the symposium (FASS MR2), or both.