Posted by: cochinblogger | March 20, 2012

Two Indian Contributions to Sleep Science

I came across two mentions of India in the sleep book (Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams), both intriguing in their own right. Here’s the first one:

The idea that emerges, then, is one of three different modes of existence: the waking state, REM sleep, and NREM sleep. There is little new under the sun, of course. The modern concept of dream sleep as a third state of existence was foreshadowed in ancient Indian philosophy, which distinguished between the waking state, dream sleep, and dreamless sleep.

The other connection is less positive:

In some cultures, men find the thought of nocturnal erections and emissions upsetting. In India, for example, a culture-bound disorder known as Dhat syndrome has been described. The Dhat syndrome revolves around a fear of losing semen through nocturnal emissions. It reflects a belief that semen brings health and longevity and that losing it is therefore harmful. The sufferer becomes preoccupied with preventing nocturnal emissions, leading to severe anxiety and hypochondria. Preventing nocturnal erections and emissions is next to impossible, so the sufferer is doomed to frustration on at least two counts.

For the life of me I don’t understand this Dhat syndrome. Instead of all this extreme angst, why not instead proudly claim that you can do it in your sleep? 🙂



  1. In addition to the three states – waking, dream sleep and deep or dreamless sleep, ancient Indian philosophy mentions a fourth state of consciousness – Turiya or the 4th state.

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