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"The Sandman" redirects here. For other uses, see Sandman (disambiguation).
Vilhelm Pedersen drew this representation of the Sandman for the fairytale "Ole Lukøje" (Mr. Sandman) by Hans Christian Andersen.

The Sandman is a mythical character in Dutch, and Central and northern European folklore who puts people to sleep and brings good dreams by sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes of people while they sleep at night.

Representation in traditional folklore[edit]

Traditionally, he is a character in many children's stories and books. In Scandinavian folklore he is said to sprinkle sand or dust on or into the eyes of the child at night to bring on dreams and sleep.[1] The grit or "sleep" in one's eyes upon waking is supposed to be the result of the Sandman's work the previous day.


Hans Christian Andersen's 1841 folk tale Ole Lukøje introduced the Sandman, named Ole Lukøje, by relating dreams he gave to a young boy in a week through his magical technique of sprinkling dust in the eyes of the children. "Ole" is a Danish name and "Lukøje" means "close eye". Andersen wrote:

There is nobody in the world who knows so many stories as Ole-Luk-Oie, or who can relate them so nicely. In the evening, while the children are seated at the table or in their little chairs, he comes up the stairs very softly, for he walks in his socks, then he opens the doors without the slightest noise, and throws a small quantity of very fine dust in their eyes, just enough to prevent them from keeping them open, and so they do not see him. Then he creeps behind them, and blows softly upon their necks, till their heads begin to droop. But Ole-Luk-Oie does not wish to hurt them, for he is very fond of children, and only wants them to be quiet that he may relate to them pretty stories, and they never are quiet until they are in bed and asleep. As soon as they are asleep, Ole-Luk-Oie seats himself upon the bed. He is nicely dressed; his coat is made of silken fabric; it is impossible to say of what color, for it changes from green to red, and from red to blue as he turns from side to side. Under each arm he carries an umbrella; one of them, with pictures on the inside, he spreads over the good children, and then they dream the most beautiful stories the whole night. But the other umbrella has no pictures, and this he holds over the naughty children so that they sleep heavily, and wake in the morning without having dreams at all.

E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776–1822) wrote an inverse depiction of the lovable character in a story called Der Sandmann, which showed how sinister such a character could be made. According to the protagonist's nurse, he threw sand in the eyes of children who wouldn't sleep, with the result of those eyes falling out and being collected by the Sandman, who then takes the eyes to his iron nest on the Moon, and uses them to feed his children. The protagonist of the story grows to associate this nightmarish creature with the genuinely sinister figure of his father's associate Coppelius. In Romanian folklore there is a similar character, Mos Ene (Ene the Elder).

In popular culture[edit]

A popular character in folklore, the Sandman is frequently referenced in popular culture. Some noteworthy examples include the following:

  • Susan Holton's short poem, "I'm Looking for the Sandman", written in 1928 and debuted by the Methodist Book Concern, was the first appearance of the Sandman in American literature:
  • Neil Gaiman's graphic novel series, The Sandman, depicts the Sandman as the protagonist, Dream
  • The Sandman is a 2012 novel by Lars Kepler






  • In an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina Spellman takes over the duties of the sandman and uses her power to view others' dreams.
  • The Rugrats involves the Sandman in the episode "Sleep Troubles."
  • In the Apollo Theater talent television show, the Sandman is a stage name for Howard Sims, who comedically ushered failed acts offstage with a shepherd's crook.
  • The supernatural series Charmed featured the Sandman in an episode entitled "Sand Francisco Dreamin'" (2002).
  • The animated series Courage the Cowardly Dog featured the Sandman in the episode "Stormy Weather/The Sandman Sleeps" (2002).
  • The Family Guy episode "Baking Bad" (2014) portrays the Sandman in one of the cutaways
  • The Canadian part-animated/part-live-action Christmas television special Nilus the Sandman: The Boy Who Dreamed Christmas (1991) featured the Sandman, whose name is revealed to be "Nilus". This version of the Sandman returned in two subsequent Nilus the Sandman TV specials in 1994 and 1995, and a Nilus the Sandman TV series airing from 1996 to 1998.
  • The Powerpuff Girls episode "Dream Scheme" (1999) features the Sandman, who creates a machine with which to put the entire world to sleep forever.
  • The Nickelodeon children's horror series Are You Afraid of the Dark? featured the Sandman, portrayed by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, as a villain in the season 2 episode, The Tale of the Final Wish
  • In East Germany on Deutscher Fernsehfunk, the children's television program Sandmännchen survived through the end of the Iron Curtain.
  • The 2013 TV series Sleepy Hollow depicts the Sandman in the episode "For the Triumph of Evil".
  • The Sandman appears in The Fairly OddParents episode "Beddy Bye" voiced by Jackie Mason. The Sandman is a mattress retail magnate and is referred to as Harvey Sandman and the Mattress King.
  • In 2005, the TV late-night talk show The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson theme song mentioned the Sandman.
  • In The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, Steven the Sandman is a version of the Sandman (voiced by Daran Norris) who resides in the dream world.
  • The animated series The Real Ghostbusters featured the Sandman in the episode "Mr. Sandman, Dream Me a Dream" (1986).
  • The Sandman appears in The Smurfs episode "Darkness Monster", voiced by Frank Welker. Papa Smurf and the Smurflings travel to the Land of Nod to obtain some sand; there they meet a grouchy Sandman who has only recently taken the job from his retiring predecessor. The Sandman demands chocolate from the Darkness Monster's cave in exchange for the sand.
  • The Martin Mystery episode, "Attack of the Sandman," involves the Sandman
  • In an episode of children's television series, Rupert, Rupert's friend Podgy is plagued with nightmares, which has disrupted the work of the Sandman. The Sandman agrees to let Rupert and Podgy lucidly experience Podgy's dream in order to stop his nightmares from destroying good dreams.

See also[edit]



External links[edit]

Media related to Sandman at Wikimedia Commons