Treat yourself

To “treat yourself” means to do something good and pleasurable for yourself, but not something necessary.

Today's story: Why we sleep
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Treat yourself

It’s time to treat yourself! If your ears just perked up with excitement, then you probably know what today’s phrase means. To treat yourself means to do something good and pleasurable for yourself, but not something necessary. Something you do just for the enjoyment of it.

You might treat yourself to an ice cream cone one night. This is something you do just for the pleasure—there really is no other reason to eat ice cream. If you like grilled chicken, you don’t generally say you “treat yourself” to a piece of grilled chicken. It’s not a treat because it’s something you’d eat anyway; it’s not special.

Perhaps you like massages. Fun fact about me: I have never had a professional massage. I’m afraid I’m going to like it too much! But some people treat themselves to a massage every now and then. They do it to make themselves feel better. It’s a luxury. Now if you get hurt and you need a massage to help you recover, that’s a different story. That’s not a treat: that’s something medically necessary.

Earlier, I said that many people consider a long night’s sleep a treat. You can treat yourself to a long night of sleep. But actually, a long night of sleep is necessary for your help. That’s why this attitude is wrong. If you believe that you can “treat yourself” to a long night’s sleep, that means you don’t recognize the true physical and mental benefits to sleep. Some people think that a full night’s sleep is just a luxury; they think it’s not really necessary. So they “treat themselves” to a full night’s sleep every once in a while—the same way they’d treat themselves to an ice cream cone.

But we learned today that this is not the right attitude—that a full night’s sleep is not a luxury, but rather an essential component of your physical and mental health.

What do you do to treat yourself? I hope you do something because it’s good to treat yourself every once in a while. When COVID hit, I decided I was going to treat myself to small luxuries. One of those small luxuries was freshly-roasted coffee beans. Instead of buying my coffee beans at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, I decided to get them at a small coffee roastery near my house, or other places similar to that. You can buy beans roasted just that morning. It’s a bit more expensive than normal, but considering that I’m spending so much less in other parts of my life, I decided to treat myself to this.

Quote of the Week

You knew I was going to pick a sleep-related quote, right? This one does appear in the book, “Why We Sleep,” and it’s a quote from someone long ago. I’m going to read you the quote. It’s kind of long. But as you listen to it, think about how closely this hews to the current scientific knowledge and findings. When it’s done, I’ll tell you who said it—and in what year.

Ok, here we go:

“It is a curious fact…that the interval of a single night will greatly increase the strength of the memory….Whatever the cause, things which could not be recalled on the spot are easily coordinated the next day, and time itself, which is generally [thought to be] one of the causes of forgetfulness, actually serves to strengthen the memory.”

That sounds like it might have been written as the introduction to a scientific paper on the findings about sleep. But no. In fact, that was Quintilian, a Roman educator who lived in modern-day Spain, from about the year 35 to the year 100 A.D. He lived almost two thousand years ago! And he could recognize that a good night’s sleep could increase the memory. And here we are in the year 2020 with our sleep-deprived life and constant interruptions, discovering things that Quintilian could have told us when he lived so long ago. So here’s the first part of the quote again, “It is a curious fact…that the interval of a single night will greatly increase the strength of the memory” by the Roman educator Quintilian.

See you next time!

That’s all for today. Remember that we’ll continue this topic on Thursday and on our live calls. If you’re a Plain English Plus+ member, we’ll be talking about sleep on the next two live video calls, scheduled for September 8 and September 12. So think about what your experience has been and be prepared to talk about it on one or both of those calls. They’re great fun, if you haven’t joined one yet.

If you’re not yet a Plain English Plus+ member, and if you’d like to join the live video calls with Plus members, there’s still time to join. Just visit PlainEnglish.com/Plus to sign up. The live calls are not required, but they’re a fun benefit and a great way to practice speaking and to connect with other members. PlainEnglish.com/Plus

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Story: Why we sleep