June 13, 2021

"The early-20th-century Hindu guru Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi taught that sleep is the 'pure state' in which there is full awareness, in contrast to 'total ignorance in the waking state.' "

"In the Bible, God himself spoke to Joseph in dreams, telling him to take Mary as his wife and later to flee with his family to Egypt to save the baby Jesus. Pope Francis is known to have a special devotion to Saint Joseph, and when he has a problem, he writes it on a slip of paper and places it under his sleeping-Joseph statue—and then goes to bed himself.... Starting tonight, treat bedtime like a liturgy in which you make the decision to seek greater philosophical depth and clarity about life."

From "The Lie We Tell Ourselves About Going to Bed Early/To get better sleep, stop treating it like a chore" (The Atlantic).

Compare Donald Trump: "I'm not a big sleeper, I like three hours, four hours, I toss, I turn, I beep-de-beep, I want to find out what's going on."


Ann Althouse said...

ALP writes:

I am fascinated by sleep. It is my one 'health nut' thing - most people want to talk about diet, gluten-free, exercise, or vitamins. I will get on my soapbox and preach "get enough sleep" in a heartbeat. Best thing for one's health IMHO. I have some minor, chronic ailments that stay totally in remission if I get enough sleep. I will admit to some chemical assistance in the form of cannabis edibles as I have never slept well, even as a young kid. Through my entire life I was always tossing and turning, stuck on some stupid "what if" or just turning an interesting problem over in my mind for hours on end. I don't always lose sleep over stressful things as positive, exciting things will rob me of sleep just as easily. Years ago I gave up reading before bed as I'd stay awake wondering about what I had been reading - and would drag myself through the next work day on 3 hours of sleep. No thanks. Years of trying to learn to shut my brain down for sleep have led me to a regular routine of making my own cannabis edibles - much cheaper than the dispensary. I am rarely sleep deprived these days.

This is why I often ask very ambitious, successful people: "How many hours a night do you sleep?" and the figure "about 4 hours" is the norm. Comes up so often I wonder if ambition and sleep have been studied as a subject. Business types, artists, writers....there are people that seem so keen on producing or inventing they can't be bothered to lay about snoring....four hours max appears to be the goal.

Ann Althouse said...

What I find hard is the extreme light season we're in now in the run-up to the summer solstice.

I need to get up 40 minutes or so before the sunrise time, which is 5:17. Sunset is 8:37 — exactly 8 hours before wake up time. But it's still light after sunset. Civil twilight doesn't end until 9:13 pm. Nautical twilight is 9:59 pm — not until after the time I need to be asleep to get 7 hours.

So I need to get to sleep before it's completely dark. I've actually been doing that, and I wake up before the alarm goes off most days. But, obviously, I have the precious freedom to do what I want at the times I want.

Ann Althouse said...

Chris writes:

The ritual Arthur Brooks recommends, offering problems and puzzles up to sleep before bed to see what sleep makes of them, reminded me of traditional prayers for compline. The person praying before sleep offers up “unfinished tasks, unsolved problems, and unfulfilled hopes,” leaving it all in the divine care. His is a more secular version of a religious practice, but either way it is a good one.

Ann Althouse said...

Assistant Village Idiot writes:

Sleep is good, and more important for your health than any number of organic nostrums people spend money on. Matthew Walker's recent book Why We Sleep is the very readable summary of the scientific data to date. Putting vexing problems aside and letting them simmer in the back of the brain also has more than anecdotes behind it. That this works even better for overnight because of dreaming is plausible, but currently unsupported, as far as I know.

But to leap from there to the Voice of God is a bit much. God speaks to people in dreams very, very few times in Scripture. Over thousands of years you'd expect it to be more, actually, but it seems to be reserved for major events.

It is not only events, people, and themes that weave in and out in our dreams, but emotions as well. We awake convinced that something we have just seen in the dream is very, very significant or very, very frightening, but it's just those chemicals washing about. Things are meaningful just because we feel like they are.