Scripps College Looks at the Mystery of Sleep

CLAREMONT, Calif. (January 15, 2009) — Leading experts from diverse disciplines will explore sleep and sleep disorders in a conference and lecture series, “The Mystery of Sleep.” The conference “Sleep — What For? (Are You Sure You Want to Pull that All-Nighter?)” is Saturday, February 7, at 9:00 a.m. in the Humanities Auditorium. The lecture series runs from February 17 through April 14 and will be held in the Hampton Room, Malott Commons, at 4:15 p.m., unless otherwise noted. All events are free and open to the public.

This series looks at sleep as described by the sciences and social sciences, and by artists and people with sleep disorders. Sleep, which has been called “the proverbial riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” demands this variety of voices to be adequately understood.

The conference opens the series with presentations by professors Jerome Siegel, Robert Stickgold, and David Dinges. Siegel, an expert of the phylogeny of sleep and chief of neurobiology research at UCLA, will give a presentation on “Animals’ Sleep and What It Tells Us About the Function of Sleep.” Stickgold, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, will discuss the relationship between “Sleep, Learning, and Creative Problem Solving.” Dinges, professor of psychology in psychiatry and chief of the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, will speak on “Sleep Deprivation: Why Do We Do It, and What Does It Do to Us?”

Speakers for the lecture series include:

  • Gayle Greene, professor of English at Scripps College and author of Insomniac, on “Sleep: Gender, Class, Race (is the Sandman an equal opportunity player?),” Tuesday, February 17; “Insomnia,” Tuesday, March 3; and “Sleep and Trauma: Tales from the Battlefield,” Tuesday, April 7.
  • Greg Critser, author of the critically acclaimed Generation Rx: How Prescription Drugs Are Altering American Lives, Minds and Bodies and Fatland: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World, speaks on “Over-Medicated,” Tuesday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m.
  • Carol Worthman, the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology and director of the Laboratory for Comparative Human Biology at Emory College, speaks on “Sleep in Other Cultures: A Comparative View,” Tuesday, March 24.

The series ends with a special screening of Alan Berliner’s HBO documentary on insomnia, Wide Awake, Thursday, April 9, at 7:00 p.m., Humanities Auditorium; the film will be followed by Berliner’s talk, “Portrait of an Artist as an Insomniac,” Tuesday, April 14.

Schedule of Events

All events are held in Scripps College’s Hampton Room, Malott Commons, unless otherwise noted. All events are free and open to the public.

  • February 17, 4:15 p.m.
    Sleep: Gender, Class, Race
    Gayle Greene
  • March 3, 4:15 p.m.
    Gayle Greene
  • March 10, 7:30 p.m.
    Greg Crister
  • March 24, 4:15 p.m.
    Sleep in Other Cultures: A Comparative View
    Carol Worthman
  • April 7, 4:15 p.m.
    Sleep and Trauma: Tales from the Battlefield
    Gayle Greene
  • April 9, 7:00 p.m.
    Special Screening: Wide Awake
    Alan Berliner’s HBO documentary on insomnia
    Held in the Humanities Auditorium
  • April 14, 4:15 p.m.
    Alan Berliner, portrait of an Artist as an Insomniac
    Alan Berliner

For additional information, contact Scripps College Dean of Faculty Office at (909) 607-4215, or email

About Scripps College

Scripps College was founded in 1926 by Ellen Browning Scripps, a pioneering philanthropist and influential figure in the worlds of education, publishing, and women’s rights. Today, Scripps is a nationally top-ranked liberal arts college and women’s college with approximately 950 students, and is a member of The Claremont Colleges in southern California. The mission of Scripps College is to educate women to develop their intellects and talents through active participation in a community of scholars, so that as graduates they may contribute to society through public and private lives of leadership, service, integrity, and creativity.


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