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Sleeping & Dreaming

An Exhibition by the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum
in collaboration with Wellcome Collection, London

The Exhibition presented in Dresden by 3 October 2007 was shown at the Wellcome Collection in London until 9 March 2008.






Sleep is a must for us humans, and we spend about a third of our lives doing so. But why do we sleep? And why do we dream? These seemingly simple questions are still puzzling scientists to this day. For many people the basic need for sleep entails problems. Sleep behaviour and habits have changed radically, with sleep disorders becoming a mass phenomenon. Globalisation, with its demand for spatial mobility and flexible time schedules, has revolutionised not only the world of work, but increasingly has imposed its pace upon our biorhythms and our need for sleep. Given these developments, sleep is becoming an ever more precious good. Indeed, it is becoming the key to the well-being and productiveness of the individual and of society as a whole.


The exhibition "Sleeping & Dreaming" will offer insights into the mysteries of the night. It will deal with the biomedical and neurological processes in our sleeping body and brain. It will inquire into the nature of fatigue and sleep and show how we manage to fall asleep or fight to stay awake. It will address the effects that social changes and scientific research have on our sleep behaviour and explore the shift in the understanding of our dreams. The exhibition will present the most recent scientific hypotheses while at the same time underscoring the fact that the basic human constants—sleeping and dreaming—are and always have been subject to strong cultural and historical changes.