|Print of Asleep by Clare Elsaesser from Etsy. I love the feminine, vaguely ominous mood of her work, like this other one.|
I'm a night owl by nature, and starting in my early teens, my favorite time to be awake was when everyone else was not; no talking, no shouting, no danger, just quiet. Sometimes I'd sneak downstairs to the back door window in the kitchen and stare up at the moon. It was there I told myself that someday I'd be out of that house, in some other place--a place was already out there, waiting for me, under that same moon. Some summer nights I'd sneak out on the lawn to watch the low-flying planes coming home to O'Hare, knowing that one day I could be on one of them. With freedom to move and leave as I pleased. It kept me going.
(And I will not lie and say that I was not comforted by the fact that somewhere, out there, Taylor Hanson was under that same moon as was totally going to come rescue me someday.)
The best time for reading, for writing, for thinking has always been the night.
So it made wonderful, rational sense that I chose a profession where I had to* be at work by 6:30 AM every day. *I did not have to be there until quarter to eight, but in order to get anything done, I knew I had to be there by 6:30.
In order to get myself to a place where I could go to sleep at nine and wake at five, I had to figure out some kind of bedtime routine. And it worked, when I had the energy or will to actually do it. But most nights, after getting home anywhere between 5:30 and 7:30, that was it. I was cashed. I was immobile and brainfried on the couch, until nine rolled around and I could be immobile and brainfried in bed. You can imagine that I was not taking the healthy steps of a bedtime routine in between these two places. Or making sure to eat dinner, let alone a healthy one. I was dragging. And then I was crashing.
So that's how I plugged on, with little time for reading, for writing, for thinking. Because for me, there was no longer a night, quiet and inviting. There was only work and the short span of time before going back to work.
That's been the state of affairs over the last three years or so, but recently I've come to hit a happy medium. If I can be asleep by 11ish and up by 7ish, that is fine by me. My body will tolerate that. The problem is (and always has been) shutting off my brain when it is time for sleep.
It's been years since I've been able to fall asleep without a show or movie on in the background so that my mind can focus on the dialogue rather than perform a monologue of worries of its own. (Because of this, I can recite from memory many episodes of The Office. I am available to be hired out for parties at a reasonable fee.)
Tomorrow I'll write some specifics about the bedtime routine I'm working on this month. I'd love to hear tips from any of you that have found the magical path to peaceful slumber...especially if unicorns are involved.