Hit the hay?

中国日报网 2016-03-11 11:40



Hit the hay?

Reader question:

Please explain “hit the hay” in this sentence: “Afterwards, we were all very ready to hit the hay in our comfy beds (with heated blankets!) and get some rest for the next day’s adventures.”

My comments:

“Hit the hay” is an American idiom for going to bed, going to sleep.

In our example, after all the activities and adventures of the day, everybody is tired and eager (very ready) to go to bed and have some rest.

There is no real hay, of course, in their “comfy beds”, but instead “heated blankets”. But in the old days in America, when life was hard and things were hard to come by, people slept, literally, on hay.

Or hay straws, that is. People used hay straws or hay sacks for a bed mat or mattress.

So, back in the day, when people went to bed, some were indeed hitting hay, reaching for the hay straws.

Early settlers in America must be hitting hay from the very beginning, as we can imagine, but in written form “hay” as bed dates back only to the early 20th century, according to Phrases.org.uk:

The term hay was used in the USA to mean bed since the early 20th century; for example, from People You Know, by the American author George Ade, 1902:

“After Dinner he smoked one Perfecto and then, when he had put in a frolicsome Hour or so with the North American Review, he crawled into the Hay at 9.30 P.M.”

In 1902, mattresses were often sacks stuffed with straw or hay (hence the similar phrase ‘hit the sack’).

The phrase ‘hit the hay’ seems to have originated in the US sports scene. The Oakland Tribune, July 1903, reported this:

“‘Sam’ Berger, the Olympic heavyweight ... was sleepy and he announced that ‘he was going to hit the hay.’”

All clear?

All right. More recent media examples:

1. Ultimately, Greenwald realized, Snowden was acting on the same moral code that had led him, at age 20, to enlist in the Army to fight a war he believed was designed to “free” the oppressed. What the NSA was doing, Snowden said, posed an “existential threat to democracy,” and he felt it was his duty to act. He explained to Greenwald that he’d set up a website and written a manifesto explaining the breadth of the surveillance system the NSA had constructed. He’d intended to post the roughly 1,000-word essay on the website, in the hopes of getting hundreds of thousands, even millions to read it and sign a petition to end the surveillance state.

But the manifesto, as Greenwald says, “was a little Ted Kaczynski-ish.” He and Poitras advised Snowden it might be misinterpreted by the public. “It was pretty melodramatic and overwrought, which makes sense, because you've got to think in pretty extreme terms if you’re going to throw your life away to fight against these injustices. But to the average person you want to reach, it might sound creepy.” Snowden ultimately let it go.

Greenwald spent every day with Snowden for the next two weeks, interviewing him in the morning, breaking off to write, going back later in the day, and frequently continuing their conversations online. Snowden would go to bed every night around 10:30 or 11, casually telling the journalists he was going to “hit the hay.” While Greenwald barely slept, Snowden greeted them at seven each morning, rested and refreshed. “He was about to become the most wanted man in the world,” Greenwald says, “but slept as if he didn’t have a care in the world.” Both he and Poitras were “infected” by the younger man’s idealism and enthusiasm, Greenwald admits, and so were his editors at The Guardian, which published the first story on the leaks on Wednesday, June 5th. That piece, detailing a secret court order issued in April 2013 that compelled Verizon to hand over consumer data to the NSA, was followed, on June 6th, by a second story, exposing the PRISM program, and then a third, on June 7th, explaining how the British GCHQ gained access to PRISM in order to collect user data from U.S. companies. On the 8th, Greenwald and MacAskill published in The Guardian a report about an internal NSA tool, known as “Boundless Informant,” which recorded, analyzed and tracked the data collected by the agency – suggesting that National Intelligence Director James Clapper had lied to Congress when he insisted that the NSA did not wittingly keep track of the communications of millions of American citizens.

From that time on, Greenwald was never without a set of documents, stored on various drives, which he carried with him everywhere in a black backpack. As for Snowden, whose greatest fear, according to Greenwald, was that he’d release the material and no one would care, just the opposite occurred. On June 7th, Obama, forced to admit that the administration was collecting huge amounts of intelligence on ordinary citizens, insisted that they were only “modest encroachments” on privacy. “You can’t have 100 percent security, and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” the president said.

- Snowden and Greenwald: The Men Who Leaked the Secrets, RollingStone.com, December 4, 2013.

2. Sleepless in Singapore? Apparently so, according to a study released recently.

Singapore is among the cities in the world with the least hours of sleep, clocking an average of 6 hours and 32 minutes a day. At the bottom of the list is Tokyo, where people sleep for just 5 hours and 46 minutes per night on average. South Korea comes close at 5 hours and 55 minutes.

Who sleeps the most? People in Melbourne, with an average of 7 hours and 5 minutes per night, followed by London at 7 hours and 2 minutes.

These are some of the findings from a vast new dataset released to The Wall Street Journal by Jawbone, the makers of the UP, a digitised wristband that tracks how its users move and sleep.

According to WSJ, the data tracks hundreds of thousands of UP users from Beijing to Orlando and gives an interesting glimpse into sleeping patterns.

The report did not say how many cities were included in the study.

The study also found that the phrase “early to bed, early to rise” apply to people in Brisbane who go to bed earliest at 10.57pm and wake up earliest at 6.29am.

People in Moscow, on the other hand, hit the sack latest at 12.46am and are also the latest to rise at 8.08am.

- Singapore among cities in the world with least hours of sleep: Study, StraitsTimes.com, August 20, 2014.

3. Your brain’s pineal gland, which is inactive during the daytime, begins to produce melatonin around 9 p.m., making you less alert and ready to hit the hay. The levels of melatonin stay elevated in your blood for about 12 hours until morning. Because melatonin levels are mostly affected by light, it’s nicknamed the “Dracula of Hormones.”

Since 1994, melatonin has been sold over-the-counter in American markets and labeled as a dietary supplement, since it isn't a drug and can be found naturally in food and our bodies, according to the National Sleep Foundation. You can find it in many health food aisles as a small pill that ranges in dosage from 1 milligram to 3 milligrams. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, there is no recommended dosage for melatonin supplements.

“As a sleep physician, I use it in certain situations and I do recommend it to patients, but ... it is not something I can write a prescription for,” M. Safwan Badr, the immediate past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, tells Mashable. “If someone’s using [Sprayable Sleep] and it’s [having a positive effect on] them, I’m not going to tell them not to.”

However, Badr would prefer those who struggle with insomnia to seek professional help, rather than rely on self-chosen sleep aids, explaining that sleep is not treated with the same seriousness as diabetes or heart issues, when it should be.

- Could ‘Sprayable Sleep’ help your insomnia? Mashable.com, March 10, 2015.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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