In Search of a Good Night’s Sleep

A performance and podcast project about sleep and sleeplessness

‘In Search of a Good Night’s Sleep’ will be playing at The Southwark Playhouse from 27th of April to the 21st of May 2022. 

Sleep is a something everybody does – it’s universal. Yet, more and more of us are finding sleep elusive, particularly within our older population. To compound matters we are bombarded with frightening messages about how vital a good night’s sleep is for our well-being, for laying down memories, and even for our brain health. Why is it then that some of us are unable to get a good night’s sleep? And can our sleep deprivation be remedied?

As a company we went on a journey of exploration about sleep and sleeplessness, consulting with sleep experts while tapping into our own experiences and imaginations. The result is a devised play about five people who can’t sleep, and a documentary podcast about older people suffering from sleep problems.

Shadow looking out of window

Photographer credit: Paul Robinson

Click here to learn more about Linden and Alfreds on the about page. 

A new play devised by Mike Alfreds and Sonja Linden with The Company


percent more people over 60 suffer from long term sleep problems than those in their twenties.
(Great British Sleep Survey 2012)

Five insomniacs try to make it through the night. From dusk to dawn, they struggle with a crisis in their lives which they must resolve by morning.  Increasingly conscious of their shortening futures and lengthening pasts, they fill their nights with distracting activities, desperate sleep techniques, evaluations of their lives, delusions, fears, panics and utter foolishness as they prepare to face the day.

Five Characters in Search of a Good Night’s Sleep has been developed over a two-year period through a series of workshop in which all the material for the play was created by the actors. The play was devised and  written  by the Company  for ViSiBLE Theatre Ensemble and follows the successful runs of  two previous  ViSiBLE shows at Southwark Playhouse, Who Do We Think We Are? and Roundelay, once again offering audiences insights into the experience of later life.

Five Characters in Search of a Good Night’s Sleep has been postponed due to Covid-19.

Sleep Talk

A podcast by Sonja Linden,
based on the sleep experiences of real-life people in later age.

A podcast by Sonja Linden drawn from her interviews of older people with sleep problems and interviews and research material from leading sleep experts.

I don’t really have any trouble in getting to sleep but I’m up like a bullet at sort of you know two or three in the morning and rather than lie there, after years of experiencing this, rather than just lie there and let all the little gnomes and goblins and beasties come in to sort of plague me with all the sort of neurotic cleverness they have, you know, you’re not good enough, you’ve made a mess of your life, nobody loves me stuff,  I learnt a good while ago as soon as that starts  to leap  out of bed raise my arms in the air and say Oh what a treat getting up at 3 o’clock in the morning, running around er make a nice cup of tea, how jolly what a treat. That’s the best way to see off the monsters.’  Terry, Sleep Talk interviewee

Sleep Talk was created as a companion piece to Five Characters in Search of a Good Night’s Sleep to provide some factual information about sleep in general and sleep problems in later life in particular. It arose out of the background research Sonja did originally to inform the play, and which Sonja thought would be of interest to audience members who are themselves having sleep problems.

Sleep Talk will be available soon for listening!

Research for this project is supported by the following distinguished sleep experts:

Dr Hugh Selsick

Dr Hugh Selsick

Consultant in sleep medicine and psychiatry, Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine

Dr Neil Stanley

Dr Neil Stanley, Resident sleep expert at Sleepstation

Professor Jim Horne

Sleep neuroscientist, Loughborough University

Professor Derk-Jan Dijk

Director of the Sleep Research Centre, University of Surrey

In Search of a Good Night’s Sleep is kindly supported by the Diorama Arts Centre, Regents Place, London; Arts Council England; Sleepstation, an online sleep improvement programme; and Sleepstation’s resident sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley.

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