Letter to the Editor: A Pro-Rest Episode

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Reader G writes:

Dear Rob,

The world of work is trying to colonise our every waking moment, so it’s heartening to learn of ever more people (like yourself and those you write about) who are fighting back by running for the exit.

Someone once told me he admired me for jumping ship each time a job wasn’t for me, while he was too worried to leave his. I hadn’t realised how much of an Escapologist I was!

And it’s not just our waking moments they want. This week, BBC Sounds has a podcast about sleep. Capitalism is trying to monetise our sleep by selling us masks, calming apps and the rest of it.

But why do we need these things? What’s causing the difficulties of falling asleep? It’s the prospect of having to get up the next morning and earn some pennies to pay for the apps and masks!

Apparently in the mid 2000s some entrepreneur tried to encourage people to learn to lucid dream so that they could keep working on their PowerPoint presentations in their sleep! There really is no frontier past which capitalism/work will not tread. Luckily the podcast guests called this out too. It was a very pro-rest episode.


Hi G. That podcast was very interesting and informative, so thank you for drawing our attention to it. Imagine using your sleep to work, unremunerated, on PowerPoint presentations. That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.

Awkwardly enough, I just ordered my first “soft headphones” designed for sleeping in. They were only a fiver from Vinted, so I shouldn’t have to give too many bus station hand jobs to make back my investment.

Personally, I’m not looking for commercial assistance with sleep: I just like to go to bed early to listen to podcasts sometimes. It’s pleasant. Unfortunately, I often fall asleep after ten minutes and the corded headphones (I have a bundle of them, stolen from airplanes in part so that imprisoned slaves don’t have to clean my ear wax out of them) end up wrapped around my neck. No more! I take the point though: sleep paraphernalia is another nonsense industry.

I was thinking recently how lucky I am to have never failed to fall asleep at night. Even brutally restless or party nights end with me conking at 5am. I stayed in a terrible hostel in Utrecht recently (see New Escapologist 15) where I was awake all night. Even then, I slept at 6am on the first train out of town.

Let’s keep work out of sleep, folks. As previously related in Escape Everything!, I once dreamed about stacking shopping baskets at my old retail job. What a rip off. This week I dreamed about reading beautifully-designed 1970s children’s encyclopaedias with my wife and looking at midcentury furniture in a department store with my friend Wentworth. Genuinely good dreams, those. The key, of course, is to work as little as possible in waking hours so that your unconscious mind doesn’t need to process the trauma at night.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at wringham.co.uk

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