An Hour of Wakefulness
“For centuries we were accustomed to the idea of “first sleep” or “dead sleep” and “second sleep”. It was accepted that between this first bout of slumber and the next there would lie an hour or so of quiet wakefulness, sometimes known as a “watch”. This period was often used for prayer, or writing, or sex, or even for visiting the neighbors.” ~Laura Barton
I stumbled across this idea of segmented sleep in David Randall’s book, Dreamland during the early stages of my 30 days of rest. As Randall predicted, about three weeks into my extravagant experiment, I did start to wake up for about one to two hours right in the middle of my sweet sleep. This is common for most people, but we often consider it a frustration.
While I have been on the lookout for this curious happening since Day 16, I did not trust it when it appeared. Even though I would wake up completely refreshed sometime between midnight and 2:00 am, I would fight it. I would re-arrange my eye mask, maybe turn on a fan or put in my earplugs and start doing my go back to sleep tricks. It did no good. I would still be awake fidgeting in bed until my body was ready for it’s second sleep.
One day, I had the thought to stop resisting and start receiving this time-I could read, journal or simply make a cup of tea and soak in the stillness of the middle of the night. Because my relationship with rest has been based on scarcity, I was afraid if I allowed myself to enjoy that time, I would pay the price the next day. So for days, I continued my midnight tossing.
And then, it happened.
I realized, like every good thing in life, rest is there for me whenever I need it. I don’t have to be afraid of being tired. If I am tired tomorrow, I can rest.
The next time I found myself between sleeps, I felt the childhood giddiness of Christmas morning. I tiptoed out of bed, steeped some lemon ginger tea, lit some candles and journaled while I was all snug in my softest blanket.
It reminded me of those precious midnight nursing sessions when I had my newborn babies all to myself and I still had the ability to meet their every need just holding them in my arms.
There are many gifts to be discovered at all times of the day and night when I shift from resisting to receiving.