It’s 3:30 in the morning, and I’m sitting in my favorite chair: a crinkled and worn, brown leather recliner. One of our cats has discovered I’m up, and he’s come to say hello. Miles, our 11 year-old springer spaniel, is curled up on his bed beside me, snoring. Otherwise, it’s quiet, except for the distant humming of an appliance, the wind outside and the creaking of the house.
When I find myself unable to sleep through the night, I grab a blanket and stretch out in my chair in the living room, the light beside me casting a warm, yellow glow allowing me to read, pet the cat, or listen to the night sounds of the house.
About 10 years ago I had my first real bout of insomnia. It was dreadful. For two weeks I couldn’t sleep a wink. Things had changed at work, and I just couldn’t let it go. As each day passed into night, I felt more pressure to arrest this new pattern and finally tumble into sleep. Deep, beautiful sleep. But the more I tried, the harder it became. I was caught in a vicious cycle of my mind. I became desperate and found myself in the ER one night, begging the doctor for relief. He gave it to me in the form of a shot. Finally, my prayers were answered.
But I had entered a new phase of my life. No longer would I take sleep for granted. I created new routines and formed a novel appreciation for the tenuous patterns of the mind.
My relationship with sleep has now evolved to a place where when I wake up in the middle of the night – and by no means does this occur every night – I don’t fight it. I just go with it. It’s strange, but now I almost treasure those nights I find myself in my chair, a cat in my lap, my dog at my feet, a good book in my hands.
It’s actually the best time.
With a Perspective, I’m Pete Gavin.
Pete Gavin teaches 8th grade English at Kent Middle School in Kentfield.