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I once read that happiness plateaus after $75,000 a year. Before you get to the “magic number,” increases in income correspond to increases in happiness. After that, more money won’t buy you more happiness.

I believe it, but it’s hard to believe. By this metric, I should have already reached maximum happiness. And yet there are things I feel sure would make me happier if I could afford them.

One of those things is a bigger bed. My husband John and I have slept on a full-size (AKA double) mattress for almost ten years. This once seemed normal, but now it seems ridiculously small, though our sizes haven’t changed much. Over the past decade, we may have each gained five pounds. More crucially, John is 6′ 4″. A full-size mattress is 75 inches long. That makes him one inch longer than the bed. He’s also an insomniac (of the sleep-onset variety), a restless sleeper, and occasional snorer. I fall asleep easily, but wake up easily too, and in the early morning hours I find it hard to go back to sleep. I feel sure that we’d both get more and better sleep, and thus be happier, in a bigger bed. More… “Time, Money, Happiness”

Elisa Gabbert is the author of L’Heure Bleue, or the Judy Poems (Black Ocean), The Self Unstable (Black Ocean) and The French Exit (Birds LLC). Follow her on Twitter at @egabbert.
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In the Egyptian section of the Penn Museum stands a man. He is next to a 12-ton sphinx and is wearing a multicolored dreamcoat. His beret shimmers; a red cape hangs about his shoulders. “Planet Earth can’t even be sufficient without the rain, it doesn’t produce rain, you know,” he tells the camera. “Sunshine…it doesn’t produce the sun. The wind, it doesn’t produce the wind. All planet Earth produces is the dead bodies of humanity. That’s its only creation.” The man pauses and slides his hand across the sphinx. “Everything else comes from outer space. From unknown regions. Humanity’s life depends on the unknown. Knowledge is laughable when attributed to a human being.”

The birth of Herman Poole Blount on May 22, 1914 was, for him, the least significant of all his births. Blount begat Bhlount and Bhlount begat Ra and Herman begat Sonny and Sonny begat… More…

Can poetry cure insomnia? I’m having a terrible time sleeping lately.

— Alex M.

Hmm, I’m not sure. Whenever I can’t sleep and I think about poetry, I get too excited. I either have to get up and write for hours or sketch several poetry-inspired tattoos that later my husband will beg me not to affix to my bicep. Reading is always an excellent way to cope with insomnia, and I think that the best poems to read when you can’t sleep are epics. If you’ve already read the classics, let me direct you to a couple of contemporary poems that may do the trick:  Derek Walcott’s Omeros — which is truly an epic at more than 300 pages across seven books — revisits Greek myth and branches out to explore the slave trade and Caribbean history. If you want try a smaller bite first, I recommend Peter Jay Shippy’s… More…

 

Insomnia might feel like a punishment from the gods, but it is generally thought to be a mind-body problem. While your body would like to sleep, your mind is much more interested in listing every thing you need to do tomorrow. But there’s a difference between a bad night’s sleep and a night of insomnia.

There is no negotiating with insomnia — you are at the mercy of your brain’s whims, like a pregnant vegetarian who finds herself eating slices of bologna slathered in jam. Thus the thrashing in bed (which makes us so popular with loved ones) begins: “I want to be on my left side. Wait, that is not quite right. Put your right arm up a bit. Now, uh, bend your left knee and put your left hand under your pillow. No, bend your knee… More…

 

With all of its variables and mysteries, sleep (like the weather) provides for an endless source for small talk. How did you sleep, and did you get enough? Was it hard to fall asleep, or hard to wake up? Did you dream, and what about?

It’s unclear why, but people need sleep to survive. Insects, fish, and animals need it, too, but some less and others more, some hibernating for months. Sometimes sleep eludes people, no matter how tired they are, and other times the well-rested can’t stop themselves from nodding off throughout the day. People dream, but often can’t remember what about, or they dream the same thing over and over and over again.

Sleep is fascinating, and not just to regular people, but also to scientists who can now use technology like fMRI and modern biochemical… More…