Insomnia on Boxing Day

Cat Naps.
Cat Naps. If only I could sleep like that.

At one time my days regularly started at 2:50 a.m. That is when my alarm went off to set in motion my work as a baker. It was a rare day that the alarm actually woke me though, it was most usual for me to already be awake with my mind racing ahead or behind like a dog chasing its tail…

Sleep is a slippery thing. Falling into sleep has been a gift given to me most nights. However, oozing into wakefulness during the long hours of darkness was once more common than not.  For years after my first son was born, the experience of a long deep sleep was like a half forgotten dream.  “Surely I hadn’t made up those ten hour sleeps so common prior to childbirth?” Even during my days as a baker in my twenties I had been a good sleeper, and a frequent napper. Perhaps it was hormones, or perhaps I had more to worry about as I got older, either way my thirties were frought with wakefulness.

2014 was my healing sabbatical year after my breast cancering diagnosis. It was the year my body/mind remembered how to sleep.  Since then I have only occasionally been wakeful. Which is kind off ironic since insomnia is a very common long term side effect of cancering/western treatments.

These days after a poor nights sleep I am pretty much completely trashed. It seems incredible that I functioned in any way at all during those years from age 28 to 43 with so very little sleep. I have come to see any return to insomnia as a warning light, a message from my body that I have fallen into imbalance.

December has been busy, hence very little time spent writing, and little spent on down time.  The last few weeks have brought several days awaking at 1:30 or 2:00 a.m.  Meditation has taught me that my thoughts are like passing trains, and hence I am less attached to them most of the time, but in that twilight between sleep and fully awake the thoughts hold greater sway. Which is perhaps why I feel so much like I was hit by a train after such a night. The irony of being awake when I most need to be asleep has always really bugged me.  The lack of logic in those hours of wakefulness render my choices to support returning to sleep ineffectual, and my ability to take positive action the next day to recharge likewise hampered.

“The Liver and Gallbladder spring into action between 11 pm to 3 am. Do you ever have nights when you can’t sleep at this time? This means that waste is not being processed by your liver and it acts as an irritant to your body causing insomnia and frayed nerves. Your brain just won’t stop. You may need to deal with unresolved anger and grudges towards others. ”
From the website OrganicOlivia

Whereas during the decade and a half of poor sleep I had come to a kind of weary acceptance, these days I feel fairly pissed off when I don’t sleep well.  As in, “Why the Hell am I Awake Now???” In Chinese medicine the hour you awaken has significance, as it points to a possible imbalance in your life force or chi. My wakeful time corresponds to the gallbladder and liver.  Which probably points to where my imbalance lies. So it looks like forgiveness and worthiness may need to be my words for 2017.

In the short run I will spend this week trying to get my house and thoughts in order for the New Year as best I can with the full week already scheduled. In the long term I will try to look at where I have been over extending myself, and devise better ways to maintain self care when I get busy, rather than fall into the old habit of letting busyness be an excuse to stop self care practices, specifically giving myself enough down time. It seems like my body is telling me, “Hey No problem, if you don’t want to take down time we can just add a few more hours of mental processing during the night so you don’t need to make room for that during the day.” The body is aways trying to help.  Looks like today may be less “productive” then I planned. Sometimes my body still acts like a loan shark.

I am starting to yawn, hopefully I can get a few more hours of sleep if I go climb back in bed. At the moment there are two sleeping cats pinning me to the chair with their warm furriness as I write this. To be fair I stole the chair they were sleeping in when I came upstairs to write. Though they are seriously cute, my legs are getting a bit numb from their weight. So off to bed.

May your nights be blessed with long healing sleep.


An excellent article about the body clock:


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