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"I'd like to sleep on it"

Posted by Old Shep on April 24, 2004

In Reply to: "I'd like to sleep on it" posted by ESC on April 24, 2004

: : : In thinking about thinking, the phrase "I'd like to sleep on it" comes to mind as an expression which truly describes a very deep process. To sleep on a decision means to allow the subconscious mind to work on the alternatives and consider all those other subjective and objective criteria we can't put into words (or thoughts) before arriving at a course of action.

: : In modern times we have come to ascribe almost magical abilities to the sub-conscious mind and we can do that because it is - by definition - below the conscious level and we have no record or recall of whatever process is actually going on: to that extent it's a bit like heaven or hell, which is vividly described by many but no traveller has returned from either place with any reliable record of the actuality. Perhaps when we 'sleep on it' we simply defer consideration of the problem to a time when we can more easily disentangle the facts from the emotions and decide on the facts. That's what I do when I 'sleep on it'.

: Well, I can't remember where I read this recently. But the theory is that if someone has a problem to solve, sleep can help. The solution is sometimes revealed upon awakening. The mind untangles the problem while you sleep.

Nonetheless, the phrase is used primarily to defer a decision and sleeping need not be a part of that process, albeit there are theories in support of just about any hypothesis you care to put up.