If you’ve never had trouble sleeping, it may be that you’ve never given hours of mid-night thought to what it really means to sleep. Most people take it for granted as a bodily function no more interesting than the leftover spaghetti you brought for lunch the day before payday– it gets the job done but it’s no prosciutto and provolone panini.
I’m an expert on sleep– my own sleep, that is. I’ve done most my research between 1:30 and 4:30 am, my least favorite time of every single day of my life. I’m a morning person, I’ve discovered, so with the only exception of Friday afternoon heading home after work, my favorite time of day begins the second I turn on the coffeemaker. If I’ve been awake after 1:30 am studying sleep, though, my favorite pocket of time is ruined. It’s also become pretty obvious to me that much as I love bourbon, much as I love wine, more than a couple servings of an evening will trash my morning, and it’s become not worth it mostly (mostly, because there are times spent, on the phone or in person, with people who make being sober overrated– if I need libation to get through it I see it as worth sacrificing the morning).
So, think of it. To a person, we must sleep– at least every three days, at least for a couple hours. We must slump or lie down and most astounding, we must trust. We must trust the universe, the creator, whomever, to keep us safe, to not harm our kids, our spouses or partners, our dogs and cats, ferrets and parrots. We spend all day on guard- if at home, who’s calling? Who’s at the door? When will all the family be in for the night? We’re at full alert at work– there’s danger all around, questions we don’t know the answer to, expectations and summonses and backstabbing, we must be ever ready to flee or fight.
Then at some point in the evening, we must convince ourselves that everything is OK, that at work she didn’t really mean us when she said “slackers,” that our spouse was not being mean when he said, “are you going out looking like that,” that we likely will get the promotion we’re hoping for, that the child’s behavior at school probably does not mean ADHD but even if it is it’s OK because there’s medication for it and Sue’s son has it and his grades are great, it will be fine it will be ok it will be fine it will be ok…. we must, in fact, LIE to ourselves, and sprinkle magical fairy dust on what for most of us is a life fraught with these small difficulties and tiffs and disappointments, we must get to this space of NO AGITATION and surrender. Isn’t that extraordinary? We should be shocked that most people get any sleep at all.