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September 28, 2018
Sleep plays an integral role in all our lives. It’s crept into movies such as Sleepless in Seattle, Awakenings, and into the songs we sing like the Everly Brothers’ All I Have to Do is Dream.
Sleep has long been an elevated part of our civilization, right down to the children’s story books we read to our kids. Fairy tales are huge on sleep, with characters dozing off for minutes, years or even decades, as in the case of Rip Van Winkle. Why we are so enamored of sleep remains a mystery, but if you ask any kid whose parent reads to them nightly, they’ll have plenty to tell you about it.
It was sleepiness that outed Goldilocks after she went on her rampage through the home of three unsuspecting bears. After eating out of all their bowls, breaking their rocking chair, and rumpling up all the beds, Goldilocks finally drifted off to sleep right there in the bears’ bedroom. And that’s right where they found her after returning home from their daily frolic through the woods. What happened to Goldilocks? Well, in the story, she escapes out the door and runs away. In real life? Goldi would have been taken away by the Woods Patrol and left cooling her heels in the county lockup, that is — if she was ever heard from again.
After all, it’s porridge. Who really knows what’s in it?
Poor Sleeping Beauty would have been just that — sleeping — for the rest of millennia if her one true love, Prince Phillip, hadn’t found her and kissed her back to life. Aurora? Briar Rose? Her real identity never really mattered to the prince, who was enamored from their first meeting in the woods. It was only that darn spinning wheel that kept them apart for a time. But we can only imagine what came after.
Never underestimate the importance of a good power nap, after all.
Just ask Rip Van Winkle. Tired of his wife’s incessant nagging, the happy-go-lucky Rip wanders off into the woods of the Catskill Mountains and promptly finds trouble. He sleeps for 20 years — long enough for his unpleasant wife to pass away and for his children to grow up. When he returns to town, he finds a world changed by the American Revolution. He moves in with his daughter and life goes pleasantly on — wifeless.
Who says sleep can’t alleviate the sources of stress in your life?
Books for kids aside, sleep permeates every corner of our world. It’s celebrated and honored. We make movies about it. We watch television shows that allude to it. We write novels and novellas about it.
And why not? Sleep, apparently, has mystical powers that we all need and can benefit from, from getting us out of sticky situations to relieving us of unwanted partners and helping us locate our only true loves. None of it would be possible while fully awake — at least to hear a child tell it.