When you were a kid, did your mom or dad ever look down on you at bedtime and say this to you?
Why do people say this? Because "tight" rhymes with "bite"? What does it mean?
The first time someone said this to me I took it literally. I wondered if I needed to be on the lookout for bedbugs. I wondered if sleeping tight would keep bedbugs from biting.
Personally, I've never seen a bedbug, never been bitten by one. But I know they're real, and nasty. Still a part of modern life. Once they infest a mattress it's hard to get rid of them. Lots of hotels and motels have them, especially the cheap ones. If you're smart, when you travel you check for them before retiring for the night.
Don't let them bite? If your bed's infested, can you keep them from biting? It's kind of a weird thing to say. Except when you realize that the person who's saying it is someone who cares about you, and they don't mean it literally. It's just something funny to say (laughing in the dark?), a figure of speech that translates to, "I hope nothing disturbs your sleep."
But that other part, "Sleep tight." That part's not so easy to understand. What is "tight" sleep? Have you ever slept "tight"? Is it a good thing? What does it mean?
How tightly can you sleep? Does it mean you tuck in the covers so tightly that it's hard to move? Surely not.
We know what "uptight" means. To be uptight is to be worried and nervous. Surely that's not the wish your mom and dad had for you.
And they certainly didn't mean for you to get "tight" - drunk - before falling asleep.
And "tightly wrapped." This refers to someone who is obsessed with a narrow focus, to the point of being sensitive and dysfunctional.
The people who research the origins of words and phrases say that over 100 years ago people used the phrase "sleep tight" to mean the opposite of "sleep loose." In other words sleep soundly, so that your night is restful and undisturbed by bad dreams and other things that might wake you up.
People who say "sleep tight" mean well, even though they've probably never given a thought to what they're saying or what it means. Generation after generation of good-hearted people have been wishing each other safe passage as they navigate the bizarre, adventurous world of their dreams.
Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2012. Building Personal Strength .