Not all babies are born with the proverbial silver spoon. So also, not all babies are to be found with that coveted gift as they grow into adulthood. A more important phenomenon, sleep, provides a clear contrast between the child and the adult. The child that dodges its weary mother by remaining awake longer than accepted norm prescribed by Paediatricians finds itself at the receiving end of curses by its seniors in the family, dramatically acquiring a nuisance value. The adult, bugged by insomnia, has no option but to suffer in silence, being denied the much-needed empathy that may offer some sense of relief, however feeble. One doesn’t come across instances of researchers stumbling on factors that induce sleep in babies for a major part of the 24-hour cycle, while wet diapers or craving for a feed may be obvious reasons for the baby to emerge from its slumber and call for attention by yelling, a reliable mode of signalling distress. However, the factors contributing to sleeplessness in adults have been researched extensively, leading to some understanding of the phenomenon and also reducing the sufferings of the victims.
The child that sleeps to accommodate the convenience of its mother or care-taker and the adult in the family who sleeps when it is time to sleep are assets for a contented family. The epic character Kumbhakarna, featured for his lying in deep slumber during one half of the year is cited even to this day by likening anybody who oversleeps to the demon, a clear insult.
Alert press photographers of some dailies have caught a former Prime Minister of the country in his mid-eighties and also a former Chief Minister of the State, nearly 20 years younger dozing off during public functions, in full view of the occasion’s gathering prompting one to recollect the Kannada idiom Chinthe elladavanige, santheyallu nidde (one who is endowed with a stress-free mind can enjoy a snooze even amidst a noisy crowd), inviting a reaction from the leaders that they were lost in thoughts about the country and the people’s welfare. Timeliness and quality of sleep, in addition to regular diet regimen, are prescribed as basic to keeping the body healthy and also as signs of wellness, often neglected even by the intelligentsia.
According to studies by researchers at a medical centre in a University in the USA, adults who have a regular bed time are likely to have a lower risk of heart ailments and diabetes. The line Early to bed and early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy and wise, in vogue for several centuries seems to have suffered a discounted message in our times.