“If you can't sleep, don't count sheep. Talk to the shepherd.”

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    Considering that there's a question of the exact name posted no longer then twenty minutes ago, can you imagine how difficult it would be to find this question in the future? You're title needs to be descriptive and draw the user into reading your question. – Ambo100 Jul 19 '11 at 16:49

"Counting sheep" is a mental exercise for when you have trouble sleeping. The idea is that you imagine lots of sheep jumping over a fence, one by one, and counting them as they go - and that this is so boring that you will soon fall asleep.

Your phrase is a Christian proverb (quite recent, I think) suggesting that a better method is to pray to God (the Good Shepherd) to send you to sleep.


In some cultures, people try to count sheep in order to fall asleep. This is, for example, the source of the Serta sheep which all have numbers on them. However, this saying says that if you can't sleep, you shouldn't keep trying to count sheep -- that is, you shouldn't keep trying something that isn't working. Instead, you should talk to the shepherd--you should get to the root of the problem.

In the article you quoted, this saying is used in the context of sleep deprivation. It is giving you reasons why you should go to the shepherd and solve the causes of that deprivation, instead of absently counting sheep and continuing on the same path.

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    Huh. I would've guessed that it was a dig, meaning that the droning of a shepherd would've been boring enough to put you to sleep far faster than counting sheep would've, but that's analyzing the phrase without context. – Grace Note Jul 19 '11 at 17:18

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