I used to identify as an insomniac.
And it’s true that my sleep pattern has been, ah…less than normal for most of my life.
At 9 months of age I was down to one nap a day, and was totally nap-free before I was two (to my poor mother’s dismay).
I remember the pleasure of being awake at daycare while all the other children slept.
I remember the freedom and joy of having all the Play-Doh to myself. I even have a photograph of myself next to a sculpture I was able to make, unmolested, during nap-time.
TOTALLY FREAKING AWESOME
Artistic freedom! What triumph, what liberation. What bliss.
As an angsty teenager, I valued my solitude. I easily fell prey to the high school pattern of late nights and early mornings. Between homework, instant messaging, and allllll of the fanfiction (aw yeah), I typically got to bed around 1 am, then was up again at 6 to get to school.
and you, sweet chickadee? how do you sleep these days?
I don’t sleep that way anymore (thank Bob).
Now, I can feel the impending groan but I proudly confess: I am a morning person.
Up between 5 and 6 just about every morning, “sleeping in” to me means getting up at 7:30 or (heavens forbid) as late as 8.
I’m absurdly cheerful in the morning. I’m practically (and often literally) singing.
I JUST LOVE MORNINGS OKAY
One thing I loved most about the insomniac lifestyle -
(especially in art school, where all-nighters reign king)
- was approaching dawn from the far side of night.
I’m a morning person, and I LOVE DAWN.
To me, sunrise is a jewel far more precious than sunset.
The thing is: morning people who stay up really, really late do not feel very good after a while.
I began to think about it. Insomnia, the stillness of night and the stillness of dawn.
I began to realize something.
Night has always felt so sacred, so wonderful, so special to me.
I figured it out!
IT’S BECAUSE I GET TO BE ALONE.
Night is silent. Night is still.
Night is where I can be a happy introvert, all alone, without worrying whether someone will interrupt me, or whether the phone will ring, or which kind of chores I might be called upon to complete.
Night is where I can hunker down and get into the meditative Art Zone.
Night is where I can be still.
Here’s the thing:
You can get still and still get sleep.
It took me a long time to realize that truth.
When I realized that stillness is at the heart of the matter, I began living my life with stillness programmed into my day. I found that I no longer needed to stay up late.
Nowadays, I’m typically in bed by 10. It’s great.
This morning I went up to the roof just before dawn. The bulbous waning moon hung in the lightening sky; soft warm light bled upwards between the buildings.
The city was quiet – as quiet as cities get.
I breathed deep, deep, deep into the still chillness of dawn.
IT FEELS GOOD
It’s worth it, investing in stillness.
You don’t have to get up at 5am to enjoy its benefits, either.
Wherever you are in the world, whatever you do in the day, you can find yourself a few minutes of stillness.
In the car, on the bus, under the sky.
In your room, in the shower, in the bath.
In your mind.
Spend some time alone in there, sweet thing. It’s healing. It’s whole.
How to be Still:
- Get quiet. Embrace silence.
- Get motionless. Be at rest.
- Get calm. Release agitation.
- Repeat with regularity.
Choose one or all of the above. Practice stillness.
If you’re an introvert like me, you already know how much it fills your well.
If you’re an extrovert and draw your energy from others, you may find your sense of intuition sharpened by stillness.
And be sure to get some sleep.