Sleep in the digital age

Sleep is a moral matter, from long-standing proverbs of the ‘early to bed early to rise …’ kind to contemporary ideas of ‘sleep enhancement’ and moralising regarding sleep medicines in lay and popular culture today.


Recent developments in digital and social media add further important dimensions and dynamics to these matters. These developments have the potential to transform how we know good and bad sleep, may come to be embedded within new standards, responsibilities and ideals to become a better or more productive sleeper; and give rise to a future of work where sleep data becomes wrapped up within company health and wellbeing programmes.

Our current research is interested in the ethical challenges and opportunities that these technologies embody and engender. We are also developing a suite or projects under the idea of ‘making sleep’.

Completed research projects

Social media and sleep: ethical agendas in the digital age

Little work has looked at the multitude of ethical challenges here and how they become embodied, embedded and enacted (or not) within the everyday worlds of owners, designers, clinicians, experts and users, sharers, non-users and prospective users – all of whom may value sleep differently.  

Key facts

  • Principal investigator: Dr Rob Meadows
  • Co-investigators: Prof Jon Gabe, Dr Christine Hine, Dr Gary Pritchard, Dr Paul Stoneman and Prof Simon Williams
  • Funding amount: £50,000
  • Funder: Wellcome Trust
  • Project start date: 3 October 2016
  • Project end date: 2 October 2017


Whilst our vision is to develop a larger scale systematic study, the current lacuna and the multidisciplinary nature of the area mean that an initial programme of work is necessary which includes developing an innovative methodology which is reflective of its own role with regard to these ethical issue.

Contact us

Find us

Department of Sociology
Elizabeth Fry Building (AD)
University of Surrey