For sincere advice and the correct time, call any number at 3 am. – Comedian Steve Martin

You may have been unaware of it but the planet celebrated World Sleep Day sometime last week.

Shakespeare called it “tired Nature’s sweet restorer” and you can’t argue with that: it pretty much sums up the condition. In addition, you get the best of both worlds: you’re alive and unconscious at the same time. In fact, it’s the best way to achieve that impossible dream.

Some people actually achieve things when sleeping or in the twilight world between half-sleep and wakefulness. Paul McCartney got the tune for Yesterday in such a state while John Lennon’s Across the Universe – words, chords, the whole song – came to him in a dream.

On another level, the German chemist August Kekule was dozing in front of his fire when he imagined a snake eating its own tail. Waking up, he realised that he’d visualised the hexagon structure of benzene which set out the study of hydrocarbons for the future.

The amount of sleep required by most people is usually five minutes more. Indeed, the writer Mark Twain claimed he never exercised except for “resting and sleeping.” He lived until he was 75.

Women frequently complain that their husbands snore while asleep. Indeed, there is a Jewish proverb that goes “the person that snores will fall asleep first.”

My wife insists it’s true, the Jewish proverb, I mean. Still, I suppose it could be worse. I’ve heard that some women have actually invested in an anti-snoring device that’s fool-proof. I think it’s called a Taser.

Some people have no trouble sleeping; they can doze off at a drop of a hat. That is a truly admirable quality, I suppose, unless you are a leader.

The former US President was one such fellow, frequently interrupting his sound slumber with a quick nap. Nero may have fiddled but the Donald snored. In fairness, however, he was careful and issued strict instructions that he was to be awakened in the event of a national emergency, even during a Cabinet meeting.

On the other hand, there are those who have trouble sleeping like Fearless Leader, Malaysia’s ex. It wasn’t that his trouble was talking in his sleep, it was Gopal Sri Ram interrupting in his sleep.

Which, by way of a circuitous route, brings us to World Sleep Day. That the United Nations saw it fit to name a day after it merely underscores its importance. Indeed, sleep is so fundamental a human need that millions have gone into researching it with sleep laboratories, dream research, even short cuts to induce sleep.

You can purchase slumber-inducing aids these days. And it doesn’t cost much at all.

These “auditory triggers” provoke a relaxing euphoric trance-like state, a kind of semi-cerebral, semi-auditory sensation for those who are receptive. And people use it to relax and fall asleep more easily.

The most popular are tapes of the sea; the rhythmic sounds of waves breaking amidst rolling surf seems to have a universally soporific effect on human beings even, curiously enough, those who live in land-locked countries and who may have never beheld the sea before.

But the latest rage is a video of Florida native Isabelle Pontbriand, a self-described “sleep actress” whose video describing taking the viewer through a Covid-19 vaccination registration in soft, gentle tones is guaranteed to bore anyone into comatose insensibility.

Which is why it’s effective and she’s successful.

In short, sleep’s essential. Life, on the other hand, is what happens to you when you can’t sleep.