“I’ll sleep when i’m dead.”
“Sleep is for the weak.”
“There’s plenty of time for you to sleep when you’re six feet under.”
These are just some of the responses you might receive when you ask today’s generation on their views on sleep. But why have we come to this summation of what is an extremely important bodily function? Why have we seemingly derided its importance? How come what once was and what still is a culturally sacred activity held by Native Americans and Aboriginal cultures all over the world be something we dismiss of as being a lazy person’s habit? This is what we seek to examine over the course of this article.
The Addiction to the Illusion of Productivity
It seems as though sleep has lost its value for us today. Rather than being an all-important physiological process, we’ve found ways to subvert them towards our goal of material riches and social capital on this earth. We’ve sacrificed the concept of rest, and thus rest, at the altar of productivity (or the illusion thereof). It seems as though our dog-eat-dog culture has led us to believe that sleep is an unproductive nuisance to our lives that should be avoided. Perhaps it’s all about our getting drunk on self-empowerment, “go-getter” approach that people have shoved down our throats. By no means am I saying that you shouldn’t work hard to achieve your goals, but there should be a reasonable compromise with attaining your goals and resting your body. It’s absolutely absurd that we undermine the value of sleeping, and brag about how we can run on just 4 hours of sleep. Well, let me tell you something, Jack….you’re not impressing anyone. The fact of the matter is, without proper sleep, those dismissive remarks toward sleep may very well end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy sooner or later.
The Value of Sleep in Aboriginal and Native American Culture
A disclaimer: by no means am I a resident expert on the nuances of Native American and Australian Aboriginal culture. But this much I know: this mindset that the worldview today pushes is eons away from the cultural importance that Australian Aboriginal or Native American cultures place on sleep; that of sleep being a time not just for physical rest, but also a time where the human spirit enters communicates with the spirit world. These encounters provide dreams as guidance for their everyday life. To the Australian Aborigines, the concept of Dreamtime is something that cannot be put into words; neither will I attempt to. All I can say is that the whole concept of Dreamtime is of paramount importance to the Aboriginal cultures of Australia which we would do well to learn and understand.
Have We Forgotten Something?
Going back, maybe, just maybe, we’ve forgotten just why sleep is so important to our lives. Perhaps we can and should take a thing or two in studying how these cultures value sleep, and why we should too. I mean, there has to be a reason why sleep aids are still selling like hotcakes on the market; whether they are white noise generators, supplements for better sleep, or beds ranging from memory foam to air mattresses; they all exist because of our begrudging cognizance that sleep is indeed of paramount importance. A Sleep on Air comparison (via http://www.sleeponair.net/) can help you in this regard, or visit Simply Noise to get white noise sounds on your mobile phone.