Sleep is mankind’s most important pastime. (You can’t call it an activity unless you’re a very restless sleeper or a somnambulist) We spend about one third of our lives in sleep. If we could do it all from our personal Day One, an average human would sleep until his or her 22nd birthday and then continue busily, without closing an eye, for the next 44 years.

Of course, we’re not built that way. It’s essential that we conk out at regular short intervals to maintain an acceptable level of well-being and to keep from walking into things and nodding into our dinners.

Sleep shoud be a welcome retreat from the hectic pace that our society sets. But man, the only animal capable of pessimism, has invented insomnia so he can have more time to worry about something or other.

Insomnia is not all that bad. Many of us would never do any real deep thinking or experience beautiful sunrises if it were not for insomnia. And there are those making a nice living off other people’s wakefulness.

Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon might never have achieved popularity and could have ended up selling vacuum cleaners door to door if it weren’t for the sleepless millions in their TV audiences who wanted to be entertained while awaiting unconsciousness.

Human nature is such that we need nap times, coffee breaks, lunch hours, seventh-inning stretches, intermissions, weekends and vacations. Most of us are not equipped for the 26.2 mile marathon. We’re more suited for 50 or 100-yard dashes followed by recovery periods and perhaps, cocktails.

Ovid called sleep, “The most gentle of divinities”. Shakespeare personified it as “Nature’s soft nurse”. I agree with both of them. I’ve always stood in awe of divinities and have never been known to have uttered a harsh word against soft nurses.

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