I started writing to you before I got out of bed this morning, wanted to find a way to write the blog directly from my brain into this space without having to get out of my warm nest and type it out with my fingers. There, ensconced in my covers, I was telling you about sleep, and about a new project that I’m formulating to think (through the writing) about how my relationship with sleep is changing.
All this, while hitting snooze on my little phone alarm for over an hour.
On Monday, after going to bed around, oh, let’s guess about 10:30, my alarm went off at 4, and I was awake. Note, however, that I didn’t get out of bed until I’d snoozed several times. I was up and working by 4:30, which is my ideal time for generating new writing.
I imagined that I’d start recalibrating my body with this early rise — I’d be tired by early evening, would get in bed before 10, and would be able to get up well before five again. But instead I was up working until after 11, nearly midnight. When the alarm sounded at 4 on Tuesday morning, something inside my body/psyche/self smiled gently at this ego that thought it could continue to deprive us of sleep in order to get more work done. That sleepy self snoozed us until well after 7.
I have written about this before: about my relationship with sleep, about the struggle to rise early to write, about how I spent my adolescence sleep deprived, about how we need sleep to care for ourselves, to recover from trauma, to do our best creative work, to be fully in our lives. And yet, I continue to deprive myself of the sleep my body would prefer for us — seven hours at a very minimum; eight hours would be even better.
Now, if I want to wake up at four and would like 8 hours of sleep, I would need to be in bed by 8pm. That’s just not something my life’s going to allow right now — in bed before 10 is enough of a stretch. Every time I get under the covers and set the alarm, I count out the hours between this bedtime and when I want to wake. I count them over and over again: Ok. 11pm. If I want to get up at 4:30, that’s one, two, three, four, five — five and a half hours.
Something in me is recounting because it thinks that, someday, there will be eight hours stretched out between that sleep and that wake. Magical thinking is alive and well at my house, mitigated by the persistence of my fingers to count off the same way every time.
It used to be easier to get up early, especially during these dark-morning days. I don’t mean it was easier when I was eighteen, I mean it was easier a year ago. These days, my body wants more sleep, and I wonder what it would look like to pay attention to that.
I’m all questions this morning: What if I gave my body what she’s asking for? What if I put us to bed early enough that when the alarm went off, I got out of bed? What if snoozing wasn’t an option? What if my body learned to trust that when the alarm rises, we will rise, too — what if we unlearned that the harp (my alarm sound) means it’s time to roll around in half sleep for an hour or more?
What is my body trying to tell me with this inability/unwillingness to get us out of bed anymore after only five or so hours of sleep?
What are the ways that we deprive ourselves of sleep? And why? What would my creative self be capable of if she/ze were rested?
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How do you (or your characters) sleep? How do you want to sleep? See if you can give ten minutes to this writing today — start with, “This is how she/he/ze sleeps” or “This is how they used to sleep” or “When I sleep, I…” — and follow your writing wherever it wants to go.
This is a deep lullaby for your creative self, for the inside parts that need rest, for all of you. This is a gratitude for your sleepy glory. This is a thanks for your words.