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The Mysteries of Sleep: How This Small Death Helps Us Live

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We learn why the intermediate stage between life and death is such an important, essential, and very productive part of our life. Our internal clock.

Photo of a sleeping toddler in the bed. You can see scalp, face and arms.© CC0, dagon_, Pixabay

1. Foreword written by editorial staff

In a text attributed to Homer (approx. 850 BCE), he called sleep death’s little brother. Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama, approx. 500 BCE) described sleep as the small death and saw sleep virtually as a spiritual rebirth. In the Quran, sleep is a type of death: Allah takes the souls at the time of their death, and those that do not die [He takes] during their sleep. Then He keeps those for which He has decreed death and releases the others for a specified term.​ (Surah 39, Verse 42 (43), quran.com).

In contrast, today the small death (la petite mort) at least applies to the orgasm. In some interpretations, however, sleep is the small death in which the unconscious comes to the surface. Both have to do with a loss of control, and both are “productive.” However, a person can also experience the feeling of a small death when a romantic relationship or deep friendship ends.

CLICK FOR: Rainer Maria Rilke - Das Stundenbuch (The Book of Hours)

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote the following in Das Stundenbuch (The Book of Hours):

Ich kann nicht glauben, daß der kleine Tod,
dem wir doch täglich übern Scheitel schauen,
uns eine Sorge bleibt und eine Not.
Ich kann nicht glauben, daß er ernsthaft droht;
ich lebe noch, ich habe Zeit zu bauen:
mein Blut ist länger als die Rosen rot.

Unofficial translation:

I cannot believe that the small death
whom we see every day hovering over our head,
remains a concern and a necessity.
I cannot believe that it is a serious threat;
I still live; I have time to build:
my blood is flowing as deeply as the roses are red.

Picture with bed in dark cornfield with kid counting sheep. Right the setting full moon.© CC0, Gellinger, Pixabay Sleep disorders can seriously interfere with normal functioning. Types of disorders include arousal disorders, dyssomnias, parasomnias associated with REM sleep, and also other parasomnias.

CLICK FOR: Arousal disorders, dyssomnias and parasomnias

Arousal disorders include confusional arousals, sleepwalking, and night terrors.

Dyssomnias often involve stereotypical movement disorders, hypnic jerks, talking in your sleep, and nightly leg cramps or spasms of the musculature.

Parasomnias associated with REM sleep include, for example, nightmares, sleep paralysis (narcolepsy and cataplexy), penis disorders that appear during the night, asystole (flatline) associated with REM sleep, and rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD).

Other parasomnias include Bruxism, nocturnal enursis, somatoform disorders, nocturnal paroxysmal dystonia, sudden death, primary snoring, child sleep apnea, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and benign neonatal sleep myclonus.

The link to the topic of sleep on Wikipedia is very informative and explains just how important sleep is for us. Sleep deprivation is a type of torture. Why do even insects and worms need sleep? Well, we do know that genes are the reason, and we have already decoded some tasks of such genes. But the mystery has not yet been solved.

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