Why do we sleep? Why do we dream? Do dreams have a meaning? What is the relationship of sleep and dream to waking life? How do scientists, scholars, and artists answer these questions? How do you answer these questions?

Imagining Sleep is an online course that explores the definition, representation, and understanding of sleep and dream across disciplinary boundaries. Treating sleep and dream at once as biological, cultural, and personal phenomena, Imagining Sleep includes readings, lessons, audio lectures, and a dictionary of terms. To get started, listen to the introductory episode of the companion Podcast "The Somniloquy." Follow the lessons, browse the library, or dream your way through the activities. There are many ways to Imagine Sleep.


What does sleep look like to the people who study it? How does the sleep cycle change with age? Here you'll learn why your newborn sleeps only two hours at a time (if you're lucky!) and why your grandparents wake up before dawn.


After a brief survey of historical theories about sleep and dream, you will learn about the notable findings of the 20th-century, including the accidental discovery of REM sleep.


An introduction to the Somniloquy Podcast: A series of audio lectures about sleep and dream. Corresponds to lessons available on ImaginingSleep.com.


New Books

Two recent books explore insomnia from a cultural and personal standpoint. Gayle Green's memoir Insomniac (University of California Press) and Eluned Summers-Bremmer's Insomnia: A Cultural History (Reaktion). You can read an interesting review of both books here.

Open Education

Another lifetime or two ago, Lisa Spiro and I were partners in coding and editing electronic texts for the University of Virginia's Electronic Text Center. Now Lisa is the Director of the Digital Media Center at Rice University's Fondren Library, and has her finger on the pulse of digital scholarship in the humanities. In her gracious review of this website, Lisa points out that Imagining Sleep falls into the category of "Open Education." I am pleased to embrace this term. Imagining Sleep is a university-level course without the university. It is open and available to anyone with an internet connection. Will open source culture, interest in transparency, and proliferation of multimedia technology one day revolutionize the way people educate themselves? I certainly hope so.



New Logo and Site Design!

My SysAdmin/Producer/Better Half designed a new banner for ImaginingSleep.com, based on a 1910 French painting called "Lune triste [Sad Moon]."  I have been unable to discover the identity of the author.  The words on the sleeping woman's arm read "chérie dort [darling sleeps]." 

Expand Your Sleep Vocabulary! 

A.W.A.D. does a week of words related to sleep

And the first word is SOMNILOQUY!

(Click on the word to read more about its etymology and usage.)

Somniloquy: The act or habit of talking while asleep.

Diurnation: The habit of sleeping or being dormant during the day.

Soporose: Sleepy; in an unusally deep sleep.

Hypnopompic : Pertaining to the semiconscious state before waking.

Lychnobite: One who works at night and sleeps during the day.

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