Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion

I.XV.2 Mirth

The symptoms of sleep deprivation that Lily presents in this last chapter of Book 1 (and even more so in the second half of the novel) anticipate twenty-first century medical theories of “sleep debt.” This term is medically defined as the “cumulative build-up of sleep pressure, especially from inadequate recovery sleep over multiple days” (Dongen et al 6). A  2003 study* found that the body is biologically ill-equipped to adapt to sleep deprivation, and an accumulation of sleep debt over long periods of time leads to serious health consequences and even death. Given the similar conceptual framework for the Lily’s economic and social debt to which scholars have so adeptly attended, I intend to show in this section how Lily also accrues a sleep deficit that disables her from repaying her other debts.


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