Quotes about First Sleep & Second Sleep

Welcome to my page of quotations about first sleep and second sleep. Ever wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep until very early morning? Well, apparently, it used to be normal and routine for people to sleep in two parts. They’d get up, or stay awake in bed, during the night and visit neighbors, study, pray, or well, you know, that other thing you can do in bed. So if your body doesn’t seem to be wired to get your eight hours all in one shot, don’t fret it.  —ღ Terri

I arise from dreams of thee
In the first sweet sleep of night,
When the winds are breathing low,
And the stars are shining bright…
~Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), “The Indian Serenade”

Don Quixote followed nature, and being satisfied with his first sleep, did not solicit more. As for Sancho, he never wanted a second, for the first lasted him from night to morning, indicating a sound body and a mind free from care; but his master, being unable to sleep himself awakened him, saying, “I am amazed, Sancho, at the torpor of thy soul; it seems as if thou wert made of marble or brass, insensible of emotion or sentiment!” ~Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616), Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated from Spanish

Philostratus, in his Life of Apollonius Tyaneus represents the latter as informing King Phraotes that “the Oneiropolists, or Interpreters of Visions, are wont never to interpret any vision till they have first enquired the time at which it befell; for, if it were early, and of the morning sleep, they then thought that they might make a good interpretation thereof, in that the soul was then fitted for divination, and disincumbered. But if in the first sleep, or near midnight, while the soul was as yet clouded and drowned in libations, they, being wise, refused to give any interpretation.” ~Dr. Anna Bonus Kingsford, 1886

About half-past twelve o’clock, when Mr. Winkle had been revelling some twenty minutes in the full luxury of his first sleep, he was suddenly awakened by a loud knocking at his chamber-door. ~Charles Dickens, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, 1836

He had been unable to drive away the gloomy thoughts which kept sleep from his eyes for a long hour. He had solved any number of difficult arithmetical problems, and mentally repeated the same prayer at least twenty times; but the sleep which he obtained after waiting so long and making so many efforts, brought neither rest nor comfort, and the old man struggled all night in the fiery embrace of the fever-god. It was only in the morning, after awaking and happily falling off into a second sleep, that he enjoyed the peace and repose of both body and soul, which usually characterized his rest. When he again opened his eyes after this delightful morning’s nap, a joyous ray, cast by the rising sun through the bed curtains, danced on the counterpane like a streak of gold, and gave a marvellous brilliancy to its variegated embroideries. ~Alexandre Dumas, The Watchmaker, 1859

There is one ghastly hour, between the midnight and the dawn, an hour through which I have passed again and again, when the veils of seeming and circumstance are stripped away from the soul, and one sees oneself as one is, and not as one appears to the outer world. It is after a first sleep, I think, that these wakeful moments of an over-stimulated consciousness are most overwhelming. On laying our heads upon the pillow at the beginning of night, we are still possessed by images of the cheerful day: soothed by not unflattering intercourse with friends, our souls narcotised, so to speak, by the influences of music, art and literature — “drawing the curtain of our fancy close between us and the coldness of the world.” But that first short sleep puts a blank between us and the day. We start straight out of nothingness, and face ourselves. And then we see ourselves indeed. We remember the inexpressible meannesses of which we have been guilty, the base, ignoble deeds, the failures of our will, the weaknesses of our heart, the cowardice, the bitter, ingrained badness of our whole nature, and bad as we are, we stand appalled at the revelation. The anger of God and the contempt of man lie upon us with a weight heavier than we can bear. It seems as if our hearts lay open, naked and ashamed, to the eye of the whole human race. At such moments — not unknown I think, to most of us — we surely suffer something of what is meant by the pains of hell. ~Adeline Sergeant, The Story of a Penitent Soul: Being the Private Papers of Mr. Stephen Dart, Late Minister at Lynnbridge in the County of Lincoln, 1892

It seemed almost impossible for him to rouse himself out of the delicious depths of his first sleep. ~George Despard, “Peace in the Heart,” in The Sunday at Home: A Family Magazine for Sabbath Reading, 1880

By far the larger number of the dreams occurred towards dawn; sometimes even, after sunrise, during a “second sleep.” A condition of fasting, united, possibly, with some subtle magnetic or other atmospheric state, seems therefore to be that most open to impressions of the kind. ~Dr. Anna Bonus Kingsford, 1886

My uncle walked up the middle of the street with a thumb in each waistcoat pocket, indulging from time to time in various snatches of song, chaunted forth with such good will and spirit, that the quiet honest folk started from their first sleep and lay trembling in bed till the sound died away in the distance; when, satisfying themselves that it was only some drunken ne’er-do-weel finding his way home, they covered themselves up warm and fell asleep again. ~Charles Dickens, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, 1836

First Sleep & Second Sleep Quotations
Original post date: 2007 May 3
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