The relationship between sleep and storytelling is an ancient one. For centuries sleep has provided writers with a magical ingredient, a passage of time during which great changes miraculously occur, an Orpheus-like voyage through the subconscious daubed with the fantastic. But over the last 10 years, our scientific understanding of sleep has been revolutionised. No longer is sleep viewed as a time of simple rest and recuperation. Instead it is proving to be an intensely dynamic period of brain activity: a vital stage in the rewiring of memories, the learning of new skills, and the processing of problems and emotions. How will storytelling respond to this new and emerging science of sleep?
Here, 14 authors have been invited to work with key scientists to explore various aspects of sleep research: from the possibilities of sleep engineering and overnight therapies to future-tech ways of harnessing sleep's problem-solving powers to the challenges posed by our increasingly 24-hour lifestyles. Just as new hypotheses are being put forward, old hunches are also being confirmed (there's now a scientific basis for the time-worn advice to sleep on a problem). As these responses show, sleep and the spinning of stories are still very much entwined.
Also featuring stories by Lisa Blower, Annie Clarkson, Claire Dean, Zoe Gilbert, Andy Hedgecock, Sarah Schofield, Ian Watson, Lisa Tuttle, Adam Roberts, and Adam Marek, and scientific contributions from sleep scientists Prof Russell G. Foster, Dr. Isabel Hutchison, Dr. Simon Kyle, Dr. Penny Lewis, Dr. Paul Reading, Stephanie Romiszewski, Prof Robert Stickgold, Prof Manuel Schabus, Prof Ed Watkins, Prof Adam Zeman and Dr. Thomas Wehr. This project was supported by the Wellcome Trust.