Exhaustion: Are we working too hard?
Is burnout real? Recommended reading about exhaustion, fatigue, sleep and restlessness

Are we working too hard? Is burnout real? What is lack of sleep actually doing to our bodies?

In the first Dragon Hall Debate of Autumn 2019, we tackle the question of exhaustion. The summer holidays are over, it’s back to school and to work, and it’s a time of year when many of us find ourselves feeling tired out and under the weather. So what can the experts tell us about exhaustion? Here, our three speakers – Dawn Foster, Dr Alpar Lazar and Dr Anna Katharina Schaffner – share their work in this area, and their recommendations for more information on exhaustion – and what you can do about it.

Book your free tickets for Dragon Hall Debates: Exhaustion on Monday 23 September 2019 here.

Why all work and no play makes for millennial burnout

Dawn Foster is a writer and journalist. She is a columnist for the Guardian, and writes for the London Review of Books, New York Times, Dissent and Prospect, among other publications. She won the IBP Young Journalist of the Year award in 2014. Her book Lean Out (Repeater, 2015) was shortlisted for the 2017 Bread and Roses Award and her journalism was longlisted for the 2017 Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils.

Guardian article titled 'Why all work and no play makes for millennial burnout'

Earlier this year, Dawn discussed millennial burnout in this article in the Guardian >>

Life Hacks PodcastShe also joined Dr. Radha to discuss the same concept on BBC Radio 1’s Life Hacks Podcast.



What is lack of sleep doing to our bodies?

Dr Alpar Lazar is a lecturer and principle investigator in the School of Health Sciences at the University of East Anglia, with a strong research interest in the significance of human sleep and circadian rhythmicity in brain health. Presently, Alpar is conducting ground-breaking research examining the impact of genetic risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease on sleep-wake regulation and cognition at the UEA Sleep and Brain Research Unit.

'Why We Sleep' by Matthew WalkerYou can find out more about Alpar’s research and the dedicated sleep and dementia research unit launched at UEA earlier this year on the UEA website.

Alpar recommends the Sunday Times Bestseller Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker as a highly readable introduction to the science of sleep.



Why exhaustion is not unique to our overstimulated age

Dr Anna Katharina Schaffner is a literary critic, writer, and Reader in Comparative Literature and Medical Humanities at the University of Kent. She is interested in the medical humanities, cultural history, the histories of sexuality, psychiatry and psychoanalysis, and mind-body theory, and the author of Exhaustion: A History.

'Exhaustion: A History' by Anna Katharina SchaffnerRead Anna’s essay in Aeon magazine, titled ‘Why exhaustion is not unique to our overstimulated age’ >>

Read more about Exhaustion: A History in this BBC Futures article >>

‘Every generation seems to believe it is the most exhausted in history. We’re no different. But are we right?’ – Anna in Psychology Today >>



Further recommended reading

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

‘The Great Awake’ by Julia Armfield

The House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe

‘Every Exit is an Entrance’ in Decreation by Anne Carson

Falling Awake by Alice Oswald

‘How Kazuo Ishiguro Used “Dream Techniques” to Write His Most Polarizing Novel’ (Literary Hub)

The Insomnia Poems by Grace Nichols

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