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Sleep Like a Baby

Inconceivable!There’s a scene in the Princess Bride in which Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) declares something that has happened “inconceivable”, and Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) replies: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

It’s a funny line from a funny movie. And I feel this way myself now when I hear the expression “to sleep like a baby.” Who came up with that one?!

I always thought the expression “to sleep like a baby” meant to sleep soundly and peacefully for a long duration. If I’m correct, this is simile gone awry, as Simon does none of these things–at least not without a fair bit of intervention.

Sleeping Like a BabyIn the first place, he can’t fall asleep on his own yet. He has to be held, rocked, sung to, etc. Secondly, he needs to be swaddled to sleep. If not, his arms flail about, he hits himself in the face, and he wakes himself up. Thirdly, he has to have white noise to drown out other distracting sounds while he sleeps or he has trouble settling. Fourthly, babies go through sleep cycles faster than adults do and are prone to waking at 20-minute intervals. This sleep pattern is likely a survival mechanism that keeps babies from sleeping when they are somehow vulnerable. And last but not least, until they are four months old or so, babies wake at least once during the night to be fed.

So do I want to sleep like Simon does? No way! Now a cat–that’s an animal I wouldn’t mind sleeping like…

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