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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 central and northern European folklore who 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. He is said to sprinkle sand or dust on or into the eyes of the child at night to bring on dreams and sleep. The grit or "sleep" in one's eyes upon waking is supposed to be the result of the Sandman's work the previous evening.

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:

Film and television[edit]

  • Also the 1948 Disney Short of Pluto and Figaro, "Cat Nap Pluto" a representation of the sandman wearing a comic Vietnamese straw hat and pushing a cart of golden-colored sand appears to both Pluto and Figaro, as he sprinkles their eyes. The hat may be a mistaken reference to the 1920 song the Japanese Sandman.
  • In the Apollo Theater talent television show, a stage name for Howard Sims, who comedically ushered failed acts offstage with a shepherd's crook.
  • In the 1967 science fiction novel Logan's Run (the basis of the 1976 movie Logan's Run (film)), the protagonist, Logan 3, is a Deep Sleep Operative, also referred to as a Sandman.
  • 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.
  • In 1986, the animated series The Real Ghostbusters featured the Sandman in an episode entitled "Mr. Sandman, Dream Me a Dream".
  • In 2002, the animated series Courage the Cowardly Dog featured the Sandman in an episode entitled "Stormy Weather/The Sandman Sleeps".
  • In 2002, the supernatural series Charmed featured the Sandman in an episode entitled "Sand Francisco Dreamin'".
  • The 2012 Dreamworks film Rise of the Guardians features the Sandman (nicknamed "Sandy") as a main character. Although the Sandman does not speak, he uses his sand to communicate with the other Guardians.
  • The 2013 TV series Sleepy Hollow depicts the Sandman in an episode entitled "For the Triumph of Evil".


  • The 1959 song "Lullaby in Ragtime" by Sylvia Fine, which mentions the Sandman.
  • The 1971 song "Sandman" by America.
  • The 1971 song "Winter Wine" by Caravan (band), which mentions the Sandman.
  • The 1985 song "Overjoyed" by Stevie Wonder mentions the Sandman
  • The 2013 song "Sandman" by HURTS (from their 2013 album "Exile").


  • The short poem, "I'm Looking for the Sandman," written by Susan Holton in 1928, debuted by the Methodist Book Concern, was the first appearance of the Sandman in American literature.
    "I'm looking for the Sandman.
      He's somewhere 'round 'tis said;
      But as I'm rather sleepy,
      I think I'll go to bed."

See also[edit]