|Sleeping and Dreaming
Sleeping And Dreaming
Despite the large amount of time we spend asleep, surprisingly little is actually known about sleeping and dreaming. Much has been imagined, however. Over history, sleep has been conceived as the space of the soul, as a state of absence akin to death, as a virtual or alternate reality, and more recently, as a form of (sub)consciousness in which memories are built and erased. The significance attributed to dreams has varied widely as well. The Ancient Greeks had surprise dream encounters with their gods. Native Americans turned to their dreams for guidance in life. Shamans dreamed in order to gather information from the spirits.
Sleep and dreams have defined eras, cultures, and individuals. Sigmund Freud’s interpretation of dreams revolutionized twentieth-century thought. Historical archives record famous short sleepers and notable insomniacs—some accounts reliable, some not. When Benjamin Franklin counseled, “Early to bed, ea...