Sleep Bootcamp

2018.01.26 | Anne-Mette Pedersen

Date Mon 30 Apr
Time 09:00 16:00
Location IMC Meeting Room, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, Building 1483-312

Sleep is an inherently social state and sleeping in a social environment is the phylogenetically predominant sleeping style for primates including humans. Therefore, the social sleep environment might impact a variety of phenomena for which sleep is important, such as cognition or psychological wellbeing.

However, scientific disciplines studying social interaction or psychopathologies as well as classical sleep research have widely overlooked the close interaction between sleep and sociality. Within this bootcamp we want to explore the interaction of sociality and sleep from different angles such as sleep in different cultures, the evolutionary aspects of sleep and sociality, or the possible influence of the sleep-sociality interaction on psychiatric illnesses. 



  • Dr Brigitte Steger, University of Cambridge 
  • Professor Charles Nunn, Department of Evolutionary Anthropology and the Global Health Institute, Duke University
  • Research Lecturer Katharina Wulff, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience, University of Oxford.

Organizors: Associate Professor Christine Parsons and Visiting Researcher Henning Drews



The nightmare: troubled sleep in Japanese tsunami evacuation shelters (Brigitte Steger)

Ato wa neru dake’ – ‘And then all that’s left to do is to sleep.’ This is how two middle-aged women ended their summary of life in a small tsunami evacuation shelter in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture, Northeast Japan. Talking in mid-July 2011, four months after the large tsunami and fires of 3.11 had completely destroyed their houses, they had found a daily routine of household chores and some stability. Sleep seemed a simple matter.

However, during the night(s) following the tsunami not a single person was able to sleep peacefully. Their sleep was disrupted by continuous aftershocks, lack of comfortable bedding, cold, dirt and crowds of often noisy, barely known people. They were haunted by anxieties over the whereabouts of beloved ones (or the certainty of their death) and by ghosts; they were bewildered that they had lost home and work.

  Based on narrative interviews and participant observation in shelter, this lecture explores life in the aftermath of the disaster, in particular sleep habits and sleep problems of tsunami survivors living in evacuation shelters in Yamada. It analyses the vulnerability of sleepers and how most people were able to gradually find restful slumber.