Our ancestors viewed sleep as a highly sensual and transcendent experience. Today, about a third of adults have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or feeling rested. We're becoming a nation of insomniacs.
We live in what Rubin Naiman calls, a "wake-centric era,” where sleeping and dreaming are viewed as less important than being awake and on the go. It's hard to come down from the hyperaroused state we whip ourselves into by the end of a day. It's not surprising that we can't sleep.
Plus, insomnia can have its upside. Our minds can be more open to insights and new possibilities in the dark quiet of night when our thoughts can wander to unknown places that the conscious mind can’t see.
- Marina Benjamin is a writer and Senior Editor at Aeon magazine. She’s written five books. Her latest memoir is Insomnia. She’s also the author of The Middlepause and Garden Among Fires: A Lockdown Anthology. (@marinab52)
- Rubin Naiman is a psychologist, clinical assistant professor of medicine and the sleep and dream specialist at the University of Arizona Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine (@drnaiman)
- Charlotte Jee is a writer and reporter for MIT Technology Review, where she also writes The Download newsletter (@charlottejee)
Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show.