It’s half-past twelve in the morning and I’m wide awake.
While I usually stay away from screens during this midnight hour, tonight I am on my laptop for research purposes. Also, my pen ran out of ink and I don’t feel like looking for a new one.
It’s a Friday night, during COVID times, and a quick scan of social media would suggest that I’m not alone.
Over the past several weeks, many have declared, jokingly, that they’re up now because ‘time no longer has meaning’.
It’s this thought that holds my mind’s focus tonight.
I argue that, in fact, that opposite is true: it is during these uncertain and trying times that time actually holds even more meaning.
Please don’t get me wrong- I’ve definitely done my share of coping-through-binge-watching-Netflix-in-my-Snuggie.
But the uncertainty of everything has also stirred in me an unabashed, unquenchable lust for life. One that I have no intention to sleepwalk through.
A quick Google search reveals that most of us spend about 1/3 of our lives asleep and 1/3 of our lives at work- though, as a teacher, those numbers are definitely a little off.
To ensure I can always be energetic and alert for my students, I try to stick to a regular ‘early to bed, early to rise’ sleep schedule. However, my mind has always had a tendency to race, meaning I almost never ‘achieve’ a full eight hours in one go.
During my teens and twenties, I saw this as a shortcoming. I spent most nights tossing and turning, pissed that I couldn’t will myself to sleep.
In college, I began to regularly enlist the help of various sleep aids- which often had the bonus effect of a groggy morning and hangry afternoon.
However, in more recent years I’ve had two major realizations concerning my sleep: 1) ‘eight in a row’ just ain’t gonna happen, and 2) it really isn’t some magical achievement to begin with!
So instead of attempting to ‘achieve that elusive eight in a row’, and instead of lying in bed, attempting to will myself back to sleep- I decided to embrace this biphasic sleep schedule.
Yep. Biphasic. It has a name.
It turns out a decent percentage of people in the world are biphasic or polyphasic sleepers.
Most nights I spend this ‘in-between’ time watching the trees in the breeze, reading, journaling, and contemplating life.
In many pre-industrialized societies, our ancestors would regularly go to sleep early, and upon waking, ‘burn the midnight oil’ to write, meditate, and pray.
While I have often used this time to go within- I also often more easily tap into my wellspring of creativity and have completed some of my more inspired creative endeavors during these ‘witching hours’.
There are many other science-y things I could write about this subject- but the internet is already chock-full of articles, so I’m not going to waste this precious time. If you’re curious, though, there really are some interesting reads on the topic.
But for tonight- whether it occurs regularly or is just a one-time thing- I ask you to consider embracing this biphasic phenomenon. Maybe it will only give you more time to binge-watch your favorite reality show. Or, maybe, it will also awaken in you a new lust for life?