Sleep is a natural and essential part of life, but some people may see it as a waste of time or a sign of weakness. They may try to avoid sleep as much as possible, believing that staying awake will make them more productive, creative, or successful. However, this attitude can have serious consequences for their health, well-being, and performance. In this article, I will explore the reasons why some people say “I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death”, and why this is a dangerous and misguided statement.
The Origin of the Phrase
The phrase “I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death” is most famously associated with Nas, a 1990s hip-hop artist who used it in his song “N.Y. State of Mind” from his debut album Illmatic. The song is considered as one of Nas’ best works, and it depicts the harsh realities of living in the streets of New York City, where violence, crime, and drugs are rampant. Nas raps:
It drops deep as it does in my breath I never sleep, ’cause sleep is the cousin of death Beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined I think of crime when I’m in a New York State of Mind
Nas implies that sleeping is a risky and vulnerable state, where he could be attacked or killed by his enemies at any moment. He also suggests that sleeping is a form of escapism from the harsh realities of his environment, and that he prefers to face them head-on. He equates sleeping with death, as both are states of unconsciousness and inactivity.
However, Nas was not the first to use this phrase. In fact, he was inspired by another rapper, Rakim, who used a similar line in his song “Mahogany” from his album Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em. Rakim raps:
I lay back and observe the whole scenery Then ask myself do I have any enemies And if I do then I don’t let ‘em see me Cause sleepin’ is the cousin of death so I’m not sleepy
Rakim also expresses a sense of paranoia and vigilance, as he wonders if he has any enemies who might harm him. He avoids sleeping as a way to protect himself from potential threats.
The phrase can also be traced back to Greek mythology, where the gods of sleep (Hypnos) and death (Thanatos) are twin brothers. They are both sons of Nyx, the goddess of night, and they share a close resemblance and a dark domain. According to some myths, Hypnos can induce death by putting people to sleep with his poppy flowers or his touch.
The Meaning of the Phrase
The phrase “I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death” can have different meanings depending on the context and the perspective of the speaker. Here are some possible interpretations:
- The speaker is afraid of sleeping because they think they might die in their sleep or be killed by someone while they are asleep. They may have experienced trauma or violence in their past or present that makes them feel unsafe or insecure. They may also suffer from insomnia or nightmares that prevent them from getting restful sleep.
- The speaker is obsessed with staying awake because they think they have too much to do or too much to achieve. They may have ambitious goals or high expectations that drive them to work hard and sacrifice their sleep. They may also feel guilty or lazy if they sleep too much or too often. They may view sleeping as a waste of time or a sign of weakness.
- The speaker is addicted to stimulants or substances that keep them awake and alert. They may use caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, drugs, or other means to avoid sleeping or to cope with stress or boredom. They may also experience withdrawal symptoms or cravings that make them unable to sleep.
- The speaker is expressing a philosophical or existential view on life and death. They may see sleeping as a metaphor for death, as both are states of unconsciousness and inactivity. They may also see waking as a metaphor for life, as both are states of consciousness and activity. They may value life more than death, and prefer to live fully and intensely rather than passively and quietly.
The Consequences of the Phrase
Regardless of the meaning behind the phrase “I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death”, it is clear that it reflects an unhealthy and unrealistic attitude towards sleep. Sleep is not the cousin of death; it is the friend of life. Sleep is vital for our physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being. It helps us to:
- Repair our tissues and organs
- Boost our immune system
- Regulate our hormones
- Consolidate our memory
- Enhance our learning
- Improve our mood
- Reduce our stress
- Increase our creativity
- Strengthen our relationships
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs about seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function optimally. However, many people do not get enough sleep due to various factors such as lifestyle, environment, habits, or disorders. The lack of sleep can have serious consequences for our health, well-being, and performance. Some of the negative effects of sleep deprivation include:
- Impaired judgment and decision-making
- Reduced attention and concentration
- Increased risk of errors and accidents
- Decreased productivity and efficiency
- Lowered motivation and energy
- Weakened immune system
- Higher susceptibility to infections and diseases
- Altered appetite and metabolism
- Weight gain and obesity
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Higher risk of cardiovascular problems and diabetes
- Mood swings and irritability
- Anxiety and depression
- Cognitive decline and dementia
Therefore, it is important to prioritize sleep and adopt good sleep hygiene practices. Some of the tips for improving sleep quality and quantity include:
- Set a regular sleep schedule and stick to it
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, drugs, or other stimulants before bed
- Limit exposure to blue light from screens or devices at night
- Create a comfortable, quiet, dark, and cool sleeping environment
- Follow a relaxing bedtime routine that helps you unwind and prepare for sleep
- Avoid napping too much or too late in the day
- Exercise regularly but not too close to bedtime
- Eat a balanced diet that supports your health and sleep
- Seek professional help if you have any sleep disorders or problems
Sleep is not the cousin of death; it is the friend of life. Sleep is essential for our health, well-being, and performance. It helps us to repair, restore, refresh, and rejuvenate ourselves. It also helps us to enjoy, appreciate, and celebrate life. Therefore, we should not avoid sleep as much as possible, but embrace it as a natural and vital part of life. We should not say “I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death”, but rather “I always sleep, cause sleep is the gift of life”.