how to sleep

Palinode's lecture on How To Sleep originally appeared in June 2003 in some old blog, with time off for good behaviour. Updated and reformatted, with a smart jacket and waxed moustache, for the volcano gods of NaBloPoMo.

If you've slept before this should be a nobrainer, but for those of you new to sleeping you will find this guide refreshing, helpful, endorsed by billions, good. First you need eyes. Find a pair of eyes. Any eyes will do. Good. Got your eyes? Get your mind from where you keep it: a picnic basket, a safety deposit box, a sock in the back of the drawer, thank you. You're welcome! Sleeping yet? No, not if you're paying attention. If you're sleeping now you're cheating and cheaters never wake up refreshed. Neither do drug users, unless the drugs are sleeping pills, but that's for later, that's for advanced sleeping. Remember: Winners don't experiment with advanced sleeping techniques. That's for later.

Next you need a mouth. Everybody has a mouth. If you don't have a mouth I can't help you, because there are no spare mouths left. If you have no mouth you cannot sleep. Don't complain to me. Now that you've got your eyes and your mind and your mouth you need to connect them, and that will take the necessary skills to buy wire. Go and learn how to buy wire now. Hardware stores have self-instructive behaviour sets that will teach you how to buy wire. Buy thin wire. Go now and take your money. I'll wait here. Waiting.

Okay. Connect your eyes, mind and mouth to a small generator. If you do not have a small generator then simply connect eyes and mouth to mind. For proper instructions on how to connect consult your dictionary. Here is a sample. The sample is both example and instruction. You haven't missed the sample; I'm just delaying it. I'm taking my time. Here is the sample:

con·nect v. con·nect·ed, con·nect·ing, con·nects
v. tr.
1. To join or fasten together.
2. To associate or consider as related ("no reason to connect the two events".)
3. To join to or by means of a communications circuit ("Please connect me to the number in San Diego";"Her computer is connected to the Internet".)
4. To plug in an electrical cord or device to an outlet.
[Middle English connecten, from Latin cnectere, connectere : c-, com-, com- + nectere, to bind; see ned- in Indo-European Roots.]
That was refeshing. By now you should have used the wire, the thin wire, to connect everything together. You now have the necessary components for a good night's sleep.

Oh yes, you also need night. If you do shift work you will sleep on the job. So don't sleep if you do shift work, because I will not be held responsible for your failed life and all the coworkers you kill when you fall asleep and let go of the girder or weld your buddies to a ship's hull or whatever. Let's get that straight. Go to work now and never sleep. Okay? Okay. Everybody left still with me? Okay. In order to sleep you must keep your eyes in the closed position and your mouth hanging open. Your mind controls the position of these switches. I lost the diagram but you get the idea. You have a mind now, so you get the idea.

Sleep and Wakeup are motivated by a change in state of the switches. But you don't know how the change in state is motivated. You don't know what's propulsive in this situation. What's propulsive in this situation is turkey. You need to eat a turkey to motivate the change in state from Wakeup to Sleep. In order to eat the turkey it must be dead. If the turkey is alive you must kill it first, and then you are a turkey murderer, but you live in a world of humans and you do not have to follow the rules of turkeys.

Thus, in the process of learning to sleep you understand the arbitrary nature of law. And thus you perceive that wisdom is a byproduct of of the collective human struggle to get some sleep. Is your turkey dead now? Good. Use the mouth. Have the mind instruct the mouth to eat. Use the eyes to locate the turkey for the mouth to eat and for the mind to be motivated to change its state. Turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, an amino acid that produces niacin, a vitamin that promotes production of serotonin, a neurochemical that quiets turmoil and hurly-burly, but this sentence cannot be continued because hurly-burly does nothing further. Once there is no more hurly-burly the mind will switch states from Wakeup to Sleep, and that's how it's done.

'How to Sleep' is the first in a series of educational lectures from the Institute of How to Deliver Official Lectures. For a transcript of this lecture, please look at it again.