Everyone has felt like not going to sleep at least once in their life, even if it was very late and the common sense would suggest to do so. This feeling seems to be a sort of rebellion of ourselves against something that we would surely benefit from. Getting enough sleep has, indeed, a lot of benefits, as researches have widely observed.    

In this article, I will briefly elucidate why, in my opinion, we sometimes have this “rebellion” and the reason behind it.  


Why is getting enough sleep so difficult? I would propose that its difficulty is given by its repetition. Indeed, everyone has a clear idea of why sleeping is a fundamental biological need and is therefore aware, rationally, that it should be prioritized and not put aside.   

However, humans are not only made of reason. Our irrational self, which has been largely studied during the 19th century in almost every field of science (psychoanalysis) and thought (irrationalism in philosophy), gives us an additional and enriching perspective.  

For our reasoning on sleep, we may underline one specific aspect of the irrational self: its search for the new and the special. For instance, if we only had a rational self, we would not have any issue in finding a partner and sharing our life with them. Indeed, what we would aim to accomplish in a relationship would rationally be a family and no more (1). It would be simple to love one person for the rest of our lives, everything would be fine, as long as we start a family. However, we have to face the irrational in us too. As Massimo Recalcati has recently remarked in one of his book (2), “We are not pigeons, who stay loyal to their partner for their entire life (3)”, even if we’d like to believe so. As a matter of fact, we don’t look for a partner, we look for something special. This way we create what Freud has defined to be a “Geist”, a ghost. We don’t just feel pushed to reproduce, what is called “sexual instinct”, but we need to have something more. In this regard, Freud wrote that, in every sexual intercourse, there are four people involved, the two having sex and their ghosts (4). One’s ghost is given by the ideas and principles they have since childhood, regarding what is exciting and what is attractive, what is boring and what is repulsive, and much more. Humans don’t just move by instinct, that’s clear.  

Indeed, the inner instinct of the need for sleep does not mean much to our irrational self, because of its boring repetition over the days, which goes against the ever-changing nature of irrationality. The necessity of sleep will be with us throughout all our life and, as everything that repeats itself several times, it begins to be boring. Of course, people who stay up late do feel tired, however they consider their lack of sleep as a tool to build their development or, better said, they feel like their time spent on sleeping could be used on new and thus more exciting things. There is no doubt that repetition breeds boredom, whilst innovation breeds excitement. Reason sits on repetition, irrational sits on change, reason sits on habits, irrational sits on novelties.   

Irrational flees habits and longs to be new every day, as we have seen. Even in our well-rationalized societies, our most impulsive self comes out and shocks our well-based principles.   

However, there is nothing to fear. Thinkers and scholars of the last century have found that irrationality is actually the very core of life. The flow of life does not reside in rationality, but in its opposite. Irrationality is what moves our hearts, burns our passions and sometimes makes us feel more alive than ever. One of the more irrational things we do is, as a matter of fact, to love.  

This article, in conclusion, aims to reassure those who find it difficult to sleep as much as they would need; it probably means they are very much human. Nonetheless, this should not be used to justify a misled behaviour, since falling into the thrill of life should not last much, if one does not want to be overpowered by it. Reason keeps on being our life saviour and our best tool to improve our world and, thus, should not be ignored nor put aside, but encouraged and trained to build something better.    



1 Rationally, a family can provide much more than being alone, both socially and in basic needs (such as protection)   

2 M. Recalcati, “Esiste il rapporto sessuale?”, Raffaello Cortina Editore, 2021   

3 Ibidem, pag.21 and pag.22   

4 S. Freud, “Briefe an Wilhelm Fliess (1887-1904)”, letter of 1st august 1899 

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