Let’s analyze 4 common expressions about sleep that tell us a lot more than we would think…

To burn the candle at both ends

Around the beginning of the 16th century, this was used to express a waste of something. At that time, candles were quite expensive and would only be used as a last resort. Lighting a candle at both ends would have been a huge waste of money and this is why people would speak of any waste using this expression. Today, we use “to burn the candle at both ends” to express a frenetic pace of living or to describe someone who is continually working late at night and early in the morning.

To hit the hay

“To hit the hay” is the commonly used expression to tell someone that you are going to bed because you’re exhausted. Between the 16th and the 17th century, mattresses were in fact usually made of hay and tightened with ropes made of leather. At that time, mattresses were already put on a base made of wooden slats.

Taking a catnap

If you know a little bit about cat habits, you probably know that they sleep up to 16 hours a day! Sometimes they sleep for a couple of hours but, most of the time, they take several naps of a few minutes during the day. The expression “taking a catnap” is commonly used to describe a short but effective nap.

Counting sheep

It seems like counting sheep to fall asleep faster is not as successful as we think. A recent study conducted at the Oxford University in England found that this practice actually provokes the opposite effect. According to this research, subjects who would count sheep took way more time to fall asleep than those who were told not to do it….