Why do we need to sleep? What effect do the various phases of sleep have on our unconscious minds? How can we interpret our dreams? And what is the relationship in writing between being ‘awake’ and ‘asleep’, in terms of what a writer knows and doesn’t know about what they are doing?

This discussion is chaired by the poet Lavinia Greenlaw, who was the first artist in residence at the Science Museum. Novelist Jonathan Coe’s works include The House of Sleep, described by the late Malcolm Bradbury as ‘moving, clever, pleasurable, smart’. Professor Russell Foster FRS is head of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford. His research studies the way in which light regulates our ‘body clock’ and the implications for productivity and health. Deborah Levy is a playwright, novelist and poet with a particular interest in the subconscious. Her novel Swimming Home (2011) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. ‘The seductive pleasure of Levy’s prose,’ wrote one critic, ‘stems from its layered brilliance.’