It is perhaps ironic that William Shakespeare, that erudite English wordsmith, knew more about the effects of sleep in 1611 than most of us do in the modern age. When he penned MacBeth, the famous Scottish drama about betrayal and the human soul, Shakespeare put these words into his chief protagonist’s mouth: “…the innocent sleep, sleep that knits up the ravelled 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 feat.” No truer words have ever been written. Sleep is indeed life’s great nourisher. Without it, human beings die. That is an unavoidable fact. It’s no accident that expert interrogators use sleep deprivation as one of their principle techniques to break their subjects in mind, body and soul.
The hard truth is that modern life is robbing humanity of its ability to sleep. We are slowly forgetting the art of how to close our eyes and rest. And in the process we are giving up our bodies’ ability to recuperate, replenish and reverse the vast range of physical, psychological and emotional consequences that come from being awake in an increasingly complex world.
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