The Festival of Sleep

January 3rd is the annual Festival of Sleep, a day to sleep in to make up for all those late nights and early mornings over the holidays.

When did this holiday begin, and who came up with it? We do not know. However, Google’s Ngram viewer shows that the words “Festival of Sleep” first showed up in books in 1889. The peak for the use of these words was in 1918 and 1919.

What was happening in 1918 and 1919?

A global flu pandemic took place in these years, beginning in 1918 and continuing through 1919. We are experiencing our second year of the pandemic of COVID-19 that began in March of 2020, so maybe it is a good time for us to celebrate this little-known holiday.

After the peak, the use in books of “Festival of Sleep” fell quickly, until in the 1950s there were (as far as Google knows) no books containing those words published. There were a few in the late ’60s and a few in the ’70s, but we begin to see more usage in 2000, and the number has been increasing steadily since then.

What was in those books?

Are you curious about what kind of festival of sleep writers were talking about? We can see it mostly in poetry in the 20th century, but by 2002 it is being mentioned as a name for January 3rd, and called out by some writers as their favorite holiday.

Some discussions of this special day point out that we have gotten into the habit of sleeping less and working more. Getting up early gives you bragging rights, and people brag about how late they stay up, too. The Festival of Sleep is intended to encourage people to appreciate sleep, which is important for our health.

How to celebrate the Festival of Sleep

On January 3rd you can spend the entire day in bed if your schedule allows it. January 3rd is not (yet) a national holiday, so you might have to go to work or school. If so, plan to go to bed early to get some extra shut-eye.

You will sleep better in a dark, cool, quiet place, so make sure you set that up ahead of time. Apart from that, your Festival of Sleep traditions are up to you. We hope you enjoy this restful day.

If you have more serious concerns about sleep, you can contact our Sleep Medicine specialists. The Festival of Sleep may be a light-hearted holiday, but sleep is a serious issue when it comes to health.