Quantified Sleep: Self-Tracking Technologies and the Reshaping of 21st-Century Subjectivity

De Cristofaro, Diletta and Chiodo, Simona (2023) Quantified Sleep: Self-Tracking Technologies and the Reshaping of 21st-Century Subjectivity. Historical Social Research, 48 (2). pp. 176-193. ISSN 0172-6404

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.12759/hsr.48.2023.21


Taking sleep-tracking as its case study, this article seeks to theorise the understandings of the self that are at stake in the the Quantified Self (QS) movement and everyday self-tracking practices by bringing together a cultural theorist’s and a philosopher’s perspectives. We situate the rise of sleep-tracking practices within the sleep crisis discourse, namely, the sense that in today’s society sleep disorders are on the rise and sleep deprivation is rife. Through analyses of self-trackers’ blogs about sleep, sleep-tracking technologies’ marketing information, and the functionalities of these devices and apps, we argue that the drive to self-improve at the heart of self- and sleep-tracking props up an understanding of the self centred around achievement. This understanding ends up devaluing sleep and risks contributing to the sleep crisis. We show how these paradoxes can be further understood from an epistemological perspective. Self- and sleep-tracking are arguably practices that seek to obtain knowledge by trading referential expert knowledge for self-referential nonexpert knowledge and that strive for self-optimisation by self-sabotaging achievement subjectivity. We conclude that the use of self-tracking technologies magnifies what is essentially a crisis of subjectivity.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: Diletta De Cristofaro’s research was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action SCRAPS, grant agreement No 892459; and by the Wellcome Trust grant number: 219783/Z/19/Z. For the purpose of open access, the authors have applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no data were created or analyzed in this study.
Uncontrolled Keywords: sleep, sleep crisis, quantified self, subjectivity, self-tracking technologies, sleep-tracking
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2022 13:04
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2023 08:15
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/50762

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