Perchance to Dream … Or Not

Back in the 1960s, counting sheep gave way to a lilting commercial ditty as a means for solving the age-old problem of falling asleep: “Take Sominex tonight and sleep, safe and restful sleep, sleep, sleep.” If you took two Sominex, you were guaranteed “100% safe sleep.”

Popping pills of all sorts would become a hallmark of a baby boomer generation in the making. The lyrics of Jefferson Airplane’s song “White Rabbit” fueled the acid rock imagination:

One pill makes you larger

And one pill makes you small

And the ones that mother gives you

Don’t do anything at all

Our American love affair with pharmaceutical solutions now translates into a mega-industry in the world of sleep. In 2009, consumers spent about $1.9 billion just on sleeping pills with the soothing names of Ambien and Lunesta. These trademarks are masterful in their immediate ability to convey the impression of a nighttime wonderland of drug-induced sleep.

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