THE GIFT of a Sleepless Night
Over the past two weeks, many of my friends, clients and colleagues have reported not sleeping. It seems to be a collective phenomenon. Every day, someone confesses to me, “I can’t seem to stay asleep for more than [insert anything from 20 minutes to two hours] and then I am awake.” Or I hear, “I struggle to fall asleep and to stay asleep.”
I have had intermittent insomnia for my entire life. I have vivid memories of lying awake all night as a child—usually when the moon was bright.
When I was 8 years old, I laid in my sleeping bag outside of my tent, at a 6,600-foot elevation in Eden, Wyoming, and watched the extraordinary show of the Northern Lights twinkling all night. At the time, I had no idea how rare that was; I was just awake and open to it. My hands and hair smelled like marshmallows, campfire smoke and earth. Coyotes howled and bullfrogs sang. It was a magical night. I fell asleep to the sunrise.
Sleep has eluded me thousands of times. At times I let it stress me out. I’ve since learned that the struggle is exhausting and counterproductive. I have come to see the awake time as a gift.
I have read that there might be some method to the seeming madness. Apparently, our DNA may be coded to awaken us in the middle of the night to make sure we check on the home front, stoke the fire, check for our safety or do whatever else our ancestors had to do in the middle of the night to survive. Then the second shift of sleep would come, before it came time to rise and go about their work.
When I read that, I thought of my grandparents tending the fire in the middle of the night. I have the comforts of a modern life, and I don’t need to tend the fire or check anyone’s safety. I can sleep through the night with no repercussions.
But never mind what I need: My biology and my soul apparently want me awake when the moon is bright.
So I self-explore. I breathe. I ponder. I pray. I listen. I visualize. I ask for guidance. I count my blessings. I exist.
One thing I know for sure: Sleep will come eventually. When I accept what I’m aware of for what it is, it all works out. When I get tired enough, I will sleep.
A member of the Mindful Wellness class I’m in said it well: “Accepting what is makes everything feel better.” My experience confirms this observation.
So accept that you might have some sleepy days; just be okay with it. Drink plenty of water, move and get some sun. Green tea helps me. Try to pay attention. Write everything down. Do your best. People will have compassion if today’s 100 percent isn’t as brilliant as your usual 100 percent. More importantly, have compassion for yourself. We all get sleepy at times. When you can, get some rest. Know that you will rise and shine when it serves you most. Peace, prosperity and sweet dreams.
Lucretia Robison is an Emory-trained health and wellness coach, a bodyworker of more than two decades, a writer and a blogger. If you have a personal story of awakening that you’d like to share in Walking Each Other Home, please contact [email protected].