The Facts about Healthy Sleep and Dreaming per The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations

One of the most exciting days of the year in the Department of Biological Sciences is free book day (or week). Around the end of the semester, faculty partaking in spring cleaning and/or faculty retiring leave textbooks, ancient journals, and other random science books on the front table of the main hallway for taking. During this year’s “fist fight” for the newest edition of a Biology or Organic Chemistry book in hopes for selling on, I discovered The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations. In order to understand the vast amount of comprehensive knowledge presented in this book, quickly think of any noun, verb, or adjective, and there will be a “humorous” quotation about it.

Well, what does The Penguin Dictionary of Humorous Quotations believe about sleep and dreaming? From the 20+ quotes provided about sleep and dreaming, some comically describe the burden of awakening from a night’s slumber, while others accurately (for the most part) detail sleep pathologies. I will, therefore, divide the quotations into healthy and pathological sleep. For the sake of (your) time, these categories of quotations will appear in separate blog entries.

Healthy sleep per The Penguin Dictionary of Humorous Quotations:

  1. “The average sleep required by the average person is five minutes more” Max Kauffman: referring, I imagine, to the cumbersome process of hopping out of bed in the morning.
  2. “No civilized person goes to bed the same day he gets up” Richard Harding Davis, American war correspondent: this quotation should be the newly adopted slogan of the National Sleep Foundation which promotes public awareness about healthy sleep practices.
  3. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead” James Thurber in ‘The Shrike and the Chipmunks’, Fables from Our Time: Thurber’s observations are quite accurate; the man will be healthy because he goes to sleep the day before it is time to awake and wealthy because he doesn’t care or have to spend any money on expensive, late night vices like liquor, cigarettes, and entertainment. As for dead, I imagine Thurber is describing this man’s absence of fear of dying.
  4. “I love sleep because it is both pleasant and safe to use. Pleasant because one is in the best possible company and safe because sleep is the consummate of protection against the unseemliness that is the invariable consequence of being awake. What you don’t know won’t hurt you. Sleep is death without responsibility” Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life, 1978; It’s interesting that Fran refers to sleep as safe because within other species of the animal kingdom, (e.g. any animal, whose abode is not constructed of wood, clay, or bricks and is not heated by electricity and natural resources) sleep is extremely dangerous. It leaves one vulnerable to predators. In fact, it has been documented that sleep quality differs between precocial and altruical species. Altruical species sleep less than precocial. I will not conjecture about the evolution of this behavioral phenomenon. My colleagues can, however.

    As illustrated by esteemed figures in the media, sleep is safe, sleep is pleasant, sleep is civilized, and sleep research is awesome (per Allison Brager).


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