What Bedtime Story Do You Tell Yourself? How to sleep, by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl

How rested you feel tomorrow will depend on the bedtime story you tell yourself.

If you complain about your sleep quality, then you’re simply making things worse for yourself: poor-sleeping complainers sleep worse and have worse health outcomes than poor-sleeping noncomplainers.

Personally, I use a passage in Viktor Frankl’s Auschwitz memoir, Man’s Search For Meaning, to train myself into the belief that I am indeed an excellent sleeper:

Somewhere it is said that man cannot exist without sleep for more than a stated number of hours. Quite wrong! I had been convinced that there were certain things I just could not do: I could not sleep without this or I could not live with that or the other.

The first night in Auschwitz we slept in beds which were constructed in tiers. On each tier (measuring about six-and-a-half to eight feet) slept nine men, directly on the boards. Two blankets were shared by each of the nine men. We could, of course, lie only on our sides, crowded and huddled against each other.

… And yet sleep came and brought oblivion and relief from pain for a few hours.

Published by


David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at davidcharles.info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.