Featured Fear: Hypnophobia (fear of sleep)
It would be so obvious to start this off with a rhyme from my favorite horror franchise, but I know you may already be thinking of it and humming along in your head without even meaning to. While water is pretty much inescapable, we all know we can just pretend it’s not in any other drink, or act as if adding flavoring to it suddenly changes the nature of that fear altogether…but sleep?
Without sleep, which can’t be disguised as anything else…you’d die. In fact, without sleep, you’d end up doing the ‘bigger’ sleep. As Poe once said, ‘ah, sleep, those little slices of death. How I loathe them.’
Actually, there’s no real evidence he ever said that, but it’s a fun line. Plenty of people hate sleep. They see it as a waste of time, something that somehow hinders them from doing anything valuable with the hours they have no control over…and sleep does make you vulnerable. In fact, when you’re sleeping, you’re at your weakest…no way to defend yourself, little if any awareness of your surroundings. The more I think about it, the more I think…maybe I should have another cup of coffee?
Everyone sleeps. Everyone dreams. I’d say half of the fear of sleep owes to the fact that we dream, actually. Not only are you vulnerable to the world around you, but you’re vulnerable to your own subconscious at well. It is the ultimate assault on one’s will and body, and yet…at the same time…sleep does make us stronger. I suppose that’s because it doesn’t kill you, if you’re lucky.
Since I didn’t use a rhyme, I think today I’ll leave you with a poem instead. For what indeed is more poetic than sleep?
By John Keats
O soft embalmer of the still midnight,
Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
Our gloom-pleas’d eyes, embower’d from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close
In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
Or wait the “Amen,” ere thy poppy throws
Around my bed its lulling charities.
Then save me, or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes,
Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.