Why Do We Love Sleep But Hate Going To Sleep?

We shine a light on the things we take for granted with Eric Wong.

Sleep is for the weak. Let sleeping dogs lie. Wake me up when September ends.

We have a lot of feelings about sleep. And why not, when we spend one-third of our lives in slumber. But strangely, for something that we do so much, it seems like we have a lot of trouble doing it.

I'll sleep when I'm dead... rich

That's probably why the sleep aid industry is a multi-billion dollar market, and it's not about to slow down. Weighted blankets, premium branded mattresses and beds, sound machines, CPAP masks, medication β€” we're leaving no stone unturned in pursuing better sleep, although we can't help but wonder if our sleeplessness is really more about what we do when we're awake.

So when we read Karen Russell's Sleep Donation β€” in which insomnia has become a full-blown epidemic that's killing people β€” it was incredibly unnerving to imagine a world where we can't sleep, even if we wanted to. This got us wondering...

What else can we not imagine life without, and yet treat with carelessness and complacency?

Is it the microscopic living organisms around us, that keep our world together?Β Entangled LifeΒ gives us a close up view of fungi (they're not just mushrooms!) and the many secret roles they play in our lives.

What about the often underappreciated migrant workers who get our city up and going, as depicted in the hauntingly beautiful Cicada by Academy Award-winning illustrator Shaun Tan? Or even the intangible things, which artists all over Southeast Asia try to translate into art and words in SOUND: A Comics Anthology?

We attempt to remind ourselves of some things we've taken for granted with these selected titles.

About the illustration

One of Eric's early concept sketches

"Folk tales add warmth and a really whimsical quality to my work"

Singaporean illustrator Eric Wong has a number of children's books under his belt, and brings that aesthetic to his illustration for this theme. Folk tales and classic stories are a frequent source of inspiration for Eric, as he finds that they evoke the sweetness and warmth of a fond memory.

"That's why in an early sketch I did, I'd wanted to include a cow jumping over the moon! I also added a monster under the bed, because it reminded me a lot of how I was always told to go to bed early as a kid, or the monster will come out from under the bed and eat me up!"

"If you look closely, you'll realise those are not stars in the sky. They're actually pairs of dots everywhere, which I intended as curious eyes looking on, to give the image a sort of wakefulness"

Eric considers himself similar to the girl in his illustration: "I spend most of my day doing work, leaving very little time for myself. So it's hard for me to go to bed early, when there are still plenty of things I want to do for myself. But I'm trying to strike a better balance between work and my own time, so I can go sleep earlier. After all, I'm especially aware that the night isn't getting any younger, and neither am I"

About the illustrator

Eric Wong is a creative director specialising in illustration and editorial design, with over 10 years of experience working in advertising agencies and publishing houses. He believes good design finds true balance between aesthetic and function, and has illustrated a range of children's books including Karung Guni Boy, Corona I Meets Her Match, and the Kung Fu Force series.

He enjoys making handicrafts, the occasional bus ride to sketch people he sees, and taking care of two adopted rabbits named Munchy and Sleepy. If you're reading this at 4am, he's probably still awake.

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