Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Final Solution: Somnambulism

Even for the insomniac who's plagued by nightmares and night sweats, sleep has become a playground. It’s the only getaway, the only escape that’s corona free—unless you happen to fall asleep in the subway. One of the side effects of the pandemic, even for those who have not contracted the virus, is narcolepsy. You hear many people complaining that they can’t keep their eyes open, that staying at home due to the shelter-in-place mandates, they sleep all day and can’t wait to get to bed at night. Sleep always had the appeal of the great children’s books like Through the Looking Glass and The Little Prince, since it’s a place where anything can happen and the mind, if not the body, can range freely. Apart from free market capitalism, sleep is the greatest expression of individual initiative. There are no regulations or certainly quarantines in the world of sleep—other than those opposed to by the executive functions of the brain or perhaps the superego, which is usually set out to pasture enough to allow the expression of the kind of forbidden pleasures that occur in sex dreams. Sleep research together with increased knowledge about what goes on in sleep may turn out to be one of the most prominent legacies of the current crisis. So much of mankind will be sleeping for so much of the day that a great trove of data will be produced by a new generation of somnambulists.

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