The reason people count sheep, as opposed to bluebirds or sailboats, is uncertain; some authorities think it may have to do with a tallying system devised by shepherds in ancient Britain. But there is no question that the phrase has entered the language. And its meaning is clear enough — the sheer monotony of the task is meant to lull you to sleep.
Anahad O’Connor, « The Claim: Counting Sheep Helps You Fall Asleep »,
The New York Times, 15 février 2010 [ texte intégral ]