Happy National Sleep Day!
"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books." --Jorge Luis Borges
Although its origins are cloaked in mystery (one theory is that it was a natural counterpoint to the frantic holiday season), National Sleep Day occurs annually today, January 3. So why are you still awake? If you'd like a few sleep-themed books for a celebratory voyage to "The Land of Counterpane," we have some suggestions.
You might start with The Art of Lying Down: A Guide to Horizontal Living by Bernd Brunner (translated by Lori Lantz), a "study of the history of lying down--which is more complicated than you might think."
Penelope A. Lewis, author of In The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest, told NPR earlier this year that sleep may be your brain's "spring cleaning" mechanism: "You clean up after you've made a mess, right? So that's exactly what sleep seems to do for the brain."
Bedtime reading possibilities are endless for drowsy children of all ages, ranging from prescriptive self-help titles to entertaining options like Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortés, Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman, The House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe or even Dr. Sleep by Stephen King, though the last one might not be the ideal sleep aid.
My selection for National Sleep Day this year is Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, in which Julian West, the insomniac protagonist, enters his favorite room--a hermetically sealed, subterranean sleeping chamber--in 1887 and, under a mesmerist's spell, wakes up in the year 2000. Now that is a good night's literary sleep by any standard.
Since the Weather Channel is predicting -13 temps for tonight, concepts like spring cleaning, hibernation, reading under the covers and a little restorative snoozing all sound like the perfect ingredients for a successful holiday. Happy National Sleep Day! --Robert Gray, contributing editor