There are few commonalities all people share; sleep is one of them. At the end of every day, be it man, woman or child, each and every person surrenders to the call of the moon. While the time one spends asleep varies, resting the mind is a necessity no one can fight. So much so that we are internally wired to adhere to a specific sleep cycle.
Sleep is a funny thing. As humans, we exhibit boundless control over the world. We believe that we are smarter, better and more powerful than any other creature that inhabits the Earth. But, once the sun sets and the day ends, we are shown that some things, like the resting of our minds, are beyond our power.
To make the point even stronger, sleep not only rids us of our physical control, but it removes some mental power as well. When our eyes close, our subconscious runs wild and allows for thoughts and feelings to flow in and out undisturbed. While our conscious, daytime mind fixates on work and practicalities, a rested mind jumps from thought to thought in no apparent order. Crazier still is the idea of dreams.
In a world ruled by science and discipline, it is rare to find an unexplained phenomenon. However, scientists have yet to find a rationale behind dreaming. The unpredictability and presence of dreams is a mystery to us all. And yet, it is a mystery that we all share and partake in. Dreams are a universal unknown, uniting all dreamers in their existence and variance.
Sleep is not only an inevitable, end-of-the-day occurrence. It is pivotal to one’s health. Studies show the dramatic effects sleep deprivation has on the mind and the body, so much so that too little sleep has the power to inhibit organ function. Adding to our false notion of control is the fact that no matter how advanced we become, there is no substitute for sleep. We have found replacements for food, drink, bacteria and even limbs, but sleep is a constant.
Sleep keeps us centered and grounded. Without it, human beings would have no reason to slow down. Sleep reminds us that a day is only 24 hours and the potential within that period is contained and finite. It represents the cyclical nature of life, from conscious living to nonconscious death.
It boggles the mind to contemplate how much could be accomplished if sleep were optional. Considering that our allotted time in this world is naturally limited, giving half of it to the night is a difficult thing to do. But when one examines how we spend our waking hours, the idea is even more troubling.
I often sit in class daydreaming about travel. If I could be anywhere in the world, I would want to be anywhere in the world. I think about the adventures I could experience if I broke convention. And yet, here I sit, in New York City at a desk for six hours a day, ignoring this deep desire. In a strange way, the dream world keeps us grounded. It allows us to operate a life solely based off our inspirations and aspirations. Maybe that’s why we dream. To actualize the life we can’t live while we’re awake.
The repetitive nature of the day mirrors the predictable nature of our life. The morning, our youth, brings with it light and potential. Sunrise elicits a sense of newfound opportunity and time. As the day ticks by, we fall prey to the typical-allowing ourselves to play it safe, following the motions set in place by years of the same. We count the minutes until we can slip into the realm of the unconventional. We crave something different, but we continue with the unchanging.
This continuation stems from a sense of fear. We are more comfortable in a businesslike world, imitating others’ use of the day. We are scared of the unknown. But what is more unknown than sleep? And simultaneously, what is more humdrum? Sleep represents the ultimate dichotomy, unifying our thirst for the uncharted with our wish to remain realistic.
Photo Caption: Dreaming
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons