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elbanditoroso's avatar

If there is a heaven or a hell, do people sleep? Do they have anything resembling a day/night cycle?

Asked by elbanditoroso (15927 points ) February 20th, 2012

One reads a lot about heaven and hell in the bible and in other works of fictional literature. We supposedly know what people do when they get to either destination.

What I have never seen (or can’t recall) is if there is an accepted view of day and night in descriptions of heaven and hell. Although the days may be longer than 24 hours, does literature assume there is some sort of “day” for activity and some sort of “night” for repose and rest?

We know that weather in hell is changeable (“It’ll be a cold day in hell..”) but we don’t know much about heaven.

To what degree is there literary agreement about how subject heaven and hell are to the clock and the calendar?

(If you have been to either one, please relate your observations)

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14 Answers

ScurvyChamp's avatar

Whether or not people sleep in heaven is a question of some contention.

First off—it is debatable how we arrive in heaven. If something lives on after death, then what? How can there be a non physical identity? This leads many philosophers to suppose that the body is ressurected, or recreated after death. Hick suggests that God creates a replica of us in some other heavenly world, breaking the physical continuity of our persons but maintaining the identity through his omnipotence.

However, our bodies are not suited to function in heaven. We get tired, we need to eat, we need to sleep, we need to defecate—all things that would distract us from a perfect existance. What if we forget, die or decay? What if we have Alzheimers, do we maintain this in heaven?

So it can be postulated that we are give a new heavenly body to occupy heaven in. This would explain why the discyples didn’t recognize Jesus when they passd him on the road, even though he carried hte marks from being nailed to the cross: He was occupying an immortal, genderless, serene form that wouldn’t need sleep.

I think it’s important that while there is a passage of time in heaven (people appear to be conscious in heaven and that needs time, unlike paranibbana or moksha) people are immortal. To be mortal means that we change over time, and if we are allowed to change in heaven we will inevitably change away from the perfect, contented forms we’d have to be—and become discontent, or vicious. We ourselves would have o be in a state of unchanging knowledge and wisdom.

thorninmud's avatar

Looks like in heaven, the lights are on all the time: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light” (Revelation 21:23)

And I imagine that in hell, every time you’re just about to drop off to sleep, the neighbor’s dog would bark.

marinelife's avatar

There would be no reason for sleep without corporeal bodies.

dabbler's avatar

Most religious systems that include a heaven also include a principle that we are not our bodies. I.e. We are souls with a body. The body is the soul’s vehicle during its time on earth, and it falls away after the death of the body.

Now whether a soul, in its celestial progress, still needs or can make use of down-time like sleep is another question, but it would not be for the health of the body.

The singer performer Laurie Anderson posits that “Heaven, Heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens” Which at least parallels some ideas of heaven being a constant state of celestial hosts singing praises of the creator into eternity. No sleep while all those cherubim and seraphim are belting it out.

CWOTUS's avatar

Boy, I sure hope there are chairs… and popcorn. I’m going to grab a chair and some popcorn to see what develops here.

tom_g's avatar

Supposedly, everything is fine

wundayatta's avatar

Yeah, they eat, sleep, fuck, whatever. Except in heaven it all feels good. You can eat all you want and never get fat. Sleep all you want and never get depressed. And fuck all you want and never get an STD.

In Hell, it’s the opposite. Eat a tiny morsel and it goes straight to your hips. You fall asleep at the wheel every time you get in the car and get in an accident and your body it torn to shreds and you are conscious of the whole thing. And when you fuck, instead of having an orgasm, you have an ingasm, which sucks all the tension out of the other person into you, so you feel even more pent up than you did before you started. That’s anti-love for you.

Under the Orange Tree (delightfully so).

anartist's avatar

In Sartre’s No Exit they don’t. That is part of what makes it hell.

HungryGuy's avatar

I saw Heaven in a bookstore one time and bought it out of sheer curiosity. The author answers just about every question imaginable about Heaven, all based on meticulous study of the Bible. Near the end, he starts to proselytize, but for the most part he’s just matter-of-fact about it.

digitalimpression's avatar

Revelations 21:4–7

Implications of Heaven
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

Implications of Hell
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

The bible also mentions in a few spots “eternal fire”. I know I certainly couldn’t sleep through that.

filmfann's avatar

I couldn’t add any Biblical quote here, but I think sleep is a physical need, so you wouldn’t have it after death.

Some_Ghost's avatar

I’m stuck on Earth, so I don’t know what Heaven or Hell are like. However, in the state that I find myself in, I don’t need to do anything you live ones do. Eat, sleep, fornicate, breathe…how I miss it. Heaven better be awesome, because just floating around and not being able to really do anything kind of sucks, actually.

Jeruba's avatar

The Apostle’s Creed speaks of the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.

dabbler's avatar

The Tibetan Book of the Dead notes the bardo states one will be going through to astral form following corporeal demise. And it mentions the kinds of things an astral-dwelling soul can be doing while awaiting the next earthly incarnation, if that’s your next bit of destiny. Commonly there are some kinds of educational periods, or recreation, ..same thing sometimes.
But there are always cycles, spiralling toward perfection, God-ness. It’s possible the slow parts of the cycles are analogous to sleep, but I have not seen such a reference. I’ll speculate it’s more like meditation than sleep, like the lull in tides between ebb and flow.

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