My Thing with Sleep.

A year ago I started a blog about the sleeping habits of different people. I had the idea one morning on a train ride in New York, sleep deprived and aching, after waking up from too few hours of sleep.

At that time, I worked a lot but I also really enjoyed being a graphic designer. Coming home from the office (my full time job), I would usually start working on freelance or on my personal projects. An expensive move to New York required some extra cash so the freelance came in handy. I was restless but also thriving in this spiral of productivity for almost two years. Days were simply too short and I was regularly awake until after 3am waking up before 8am again.

But thinking back, already in my childhood I would sometimes just not sleep a half or a whole night, I’d rather read books to stay awake. For some reason, I never loved going to bed and sleeping, I especially didn’t enjoy the process of laying down and having to unwind. Then, I had issues getting up in the morning because I just fell asleep too few hours before.

This particular morning on the train in New York, I hit the wall. Lack of sleep left me feeling weak and unfocussed, enthusiastic in one moment, sad in the next. I started realizing that I have to change something and listen to my body, but before that, I had the idea to make a project out if it: A giant reminder to myself that sleep is something enjoyable and precious, versus some annoying necessity in between days. The following weekend, I set up a blog, wrote some questionnaires and sent them out to friends. I was curious about their sleeping habits, and what sleep meant to them. While I was regularly forcing myself to sleep after daily exhaustion, going from 100% to 0%, I was hoping to hear some romanticized stories of hourlong going-to-bed rituals with herbal teas, face masks and pondering over the past day in bathrobes. Or were my friends like me, distracting themselves until the last minute before the eye shuts? What if they’re actually lying in bed, allowing their thoughts to pass by? For me, the second is the hardest for sure.

I’m sure there are people out there that have similar sleeping habits like I described. For me, these habits were tolerable for many months, but on the long run, 4–5 hours of sleep per night weren’t enough for my body and mind. I am the best version of myself after solid 7.5+ hours of shut eye. In the modern western days we live in, where it’s all about efficiency and productivity, people sleep less and less hours, working harder and harder, and longer hours from year to year. Idle is the foe and sleep becomes a struggle — a troublesome obligation in between days — you don’t get enough of it or you have trouble falling asleep. Scientifically it is long proven that a lack of sleep is connected to mental and physical health issues. Our bodies and brains require certain periods of sleep in order to revitalize, rejuvenate, grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones. In short, sleep does make you a better and healthier person.

Photo: Emily Gillis shot by Liane Hurvitz

But scientific facts alone I found stale, I was more interested in personal experiences and the whole myth around sleep. I wanted to create a place to collect sleep-related stories, dreams and rituals. Exploring the beauty and strangeness of sleep, and to just start a conversation about it. I realized that sleep is a very intimate and personal topic, dreams are precious and not always meant to be shared. And for myself, it took me a year to write down why I really started the blog. So far, I have collected 21 stories about sleep, interviews with people from all around the world and even had a peek in some of their bedrooms.

Surrounding myself with the topic helped me to appreciate sleep more and I did improve my sleeping habits. I hope I’ll able to continue sharing many interesting, weird, funny and inspiring stories about sleep with my readers on Sand & Such in future.

Sleep well!

PS — If you have a story to share or any questions, ideas, comments, please feel free to write me an email.