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Ben Lyall and Bjørn Nansen: Redefining Rest: A Taxonomy of Contemporary Digital Sleep Technologies. [Abstract]

Digital sleep tracking has become part of everyday life via smartphones with in-built sensors, dedicated sleep tracking software, and a range of peripherals. In a context of mediatised and managed sleep, this paper seeks to schematise the scope of consumer technologies, products, and media taking shape in the sleep industry. We outline a five-part taxonomy of sleep media technology: instrumentalisation of sleep data; augmentation of bedroom material; routinisation of sleep atmosphere; hacking of sleep rhythms; and finally, modulation of neurological states. We argue these technology types amalgamate to position sleep as in-crisis, while concurrently, commodifying this problem with digital “solutions” intervening at different scales, from the brain to body to bedroom to environment. Emerging from marketing and popular media coverage are new norms of “good sleep” and “sleep hygiene,” normalising a discussion of “how” (rather than “if”) digital technologies can measure, datafy, optimise, automate, and bioengineer sleep.

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