Sleep is one of our most basic and fundamental needs, but somehow, we have forgotten how to do it (well, that is). Can we learn how to be masters of our sleep again? Swide’s Elisa della Barba considers the matter.
Hypnos, from the Greek word Ὕπνος, is the god of Sleep, father of Morpheus and twin brother of Thanatos, the god of death. Different writers describe different versions of the god, but all agree about the fact he was given the power to make humans and gods sleep. Represented as a young man with wings on his head, Hypnos has been our ally, the one that makes our worries rest and take us to a world of dreams.
Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth:
“Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep”— the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.
Are we sleep deprived nowadays?
Abraham Maslow’s Pyramid (1954), which we all know, is his concept of the “Hierarchy of Needs”, the physiological ones: breathing, food, sex, sleep.
In the past, people would fall asleep exhausted after a long day’s physical labour: in the fields, on the factory floor, or at other people’s service. Insomnia was not unknown, but rare, would be quickly resolved after one or sleepless nights.
Nowadays as our jobs occupy us more intellectually than physically, our body is strained and rested in different ways, not always linked to sleep, which we still need.
People are finding it harder and harder to get a good night’s regenerative sleep as our body sometimes is not tired enough, or because our brain is too active or preoccupied. Maslow’s Pyramid defines, in this order, our basic human needs as Safety, Love/Belonging, Esteem, Self-actualisation. More developed societies have to deal especially with the problem associated with the latter, which has to do with morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice and acceptance of facts. Critics claim that Maslow view is a simplistic one and it’s a theory that later has evolved with other theories by Henry Murray or Agnes Heller with more complex and philosophical approaches.
The point is: we still need sleep, our body still runs basic functions that need to be renewed through rest. It is just that many of us, for different reasons linked to our contemporary society, can’t do it, with serious consequences for our daily social and professional performances.
This need has been promptly solved by structures that meet the demand by opening hotels specialised in sleep that re-educate insomnia sufferers. In the United States, as well as in Europe, hotels and classes that help us go back to a healthy sleep are popping up with luxury extras and an experience that leaves modern society and all its stresses outside its doors.
Today technology and research are at our disposal for such an important matter, but we all probably need to rethink our lives and the ways they are structured. Why can’t we let go all our worries at night? Is it the only time of the day we have available to think about ourselves, and what we really need, and want, in life? Is it a way to catch up with things we don’t organise properly during the day? Sleep-hotels should not only help us in resting better, but to answer these questions honestly and try to find time to respond to them with actions that will make our life better, even when we are awake.