Nyx, the mighty Greek goddess of night, hovers across a dusky sky with her beloved son Hypnos, the sweet-natured god of sleep.
Like a wild thing, sleep was lured from its home in nature, and domesticated in service of industrial life. The Industrial Revolution radically transformed our perception of sleep from a gracious, transcendent experience to a mechanistic, biomedical process…from a deeply personal experience to a physiological process; from the mythical to the medical; and from the romantic to the marketable. Our misconstrued sense of sleep and consequent obsession with managing it are the most critical overlooked factors in the contemporary epidemic of sleep loss.
Hyperarousal leaves us sick and ‘t’wired’: simultaneously tired and wired. Being t’wired is the psychological equivalent of being on the rack.
As the body settles into bed, our mission is to let go of our ordinary mind, our waking sense of self. This part of us, the part of us we usually call I, is simply incapable of sleeping. It can walk us to the shoreline of the sea of sleep, but it can’t swim. By definition, the part of us we call I can do only waking.
Because wakism holds that this I is all that there is to us, it reinforces our addiction to waking and our reluctance to fall asleep.
Hypnos graciously dispensed sleep. It was not a prize to be won or a commodity to be purchased. It was not something we had to work for, but something we had to be willing to stop working for. Sleep was offered as a gift – as an act of love.
Even today, there are those who have an intimate and sensuous relationship with sleep. It can be a nightly romantic encounter with Hypnos. Come, sleep. Come to me.
from an Aeon article by Rubin Naiman