Recently, I have been reviewing the pictures in my archive for a new book project. I have been looking for activities that are shared by people in every culture and tradition. My blog on reading generated over 25,000 views, and it has been great to read many comments from people who are passionate about reading and literature, and the impact that they have on our lives. I discovered that I have a very large collection of people who are in some form of sleep. It may be a nap or a snooze, a siesta or a deep slumber, but it is something we all need, but something many of us don’t get enough of.
We sleep as much as a third of our lives, so it is clear that we are actually doing some important “work” during that time. From consolidating memory and learning, to repair of our bodies, sleep isn’t so much a luxury as a necessity.
For Shakespeare, sleep was the balm of hurt minds. He wrote in Macbeth:
“Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast.”
“Now, blessings light on him that first invented sleep! It covers a man all over, thoughts and all, like a cloak; it is meat for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, heat for the cold, and cold for the hot. It is the current coin that purchases all the pleasures of the world cheap, and the balance that sets the king and the shepherd, the fool and the wise man, even. ”
-Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1605