Re-wilding my sleep

One of the few unexpected gifts from having been so ill for so long in the spring, is that I learned how to nap. I’d work mornings, and then flop on the sofa to rest, and often, sleep would follow. I’ve not been able to nap since early childhood, such that being sent off to nap as a child was distressing and frustrating for me. For much of my life, going to sleep has been really difficult, and in the last six months, that’s changed too.

Back when I was writing Pagan Dreaming, it struck me that sleep re-wilding could be a thing. When most of us sleep, and how long we sleep is dictated not by our needs, but our responsibilities. Jobs, families, and fellow denizens of the same house, school runs, traffic, the noise around us – these things all get more say in our sleep options than we do.

Imagine what would happen if we just slept when we needed to? Imagine how different life would be if the wellbeing sleep brings could take priority, not the back seat?

For some months now, I’ve been sleeping at need. I sleep in the afternoons. At the moment, I also have an option on sleeping in the morning. My dreaming has changed, becoming richer and more complicated. My thinking, now that I’m not ill, is sharper. At time of writing, I’m sleeping a lot more because there are distressing things I need to process and I do better at that when I can do it unconsciously.

Resting when you need to rest is a truly powerful form of self care. It boosts self esteem too. The person who is obliged to push on through exhaustion is being treated, or treating themselves as less important than the things they are keeping going for. It’s dehumanising after a while. The need for rest and sleep are fundamental needs, and often not taken seriously.

Resting and sleeping are normal mammal behaviour. Even mammals who have to chew a lot of grass to get their daily food rest more than humans do. We’ve made laziness a sin and industriousness a virtue. Laziness is natural, happy and rewarding. Industriousness is destroying the planet and taking all the joy out of life. The more able I become to sleep when I need to, the more I want this for everyone else. Why are we killing ourselves to go a bit faster or make someone else a bit richer? This is madness, and it is the cause of madness. Being sleep deprived will always leave you feeling inadequate and needy. Sleeping is the only answer to this, not the consumables we’re encouraged to use as a substitute.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “Re-wilding my sleep

  • Musings Of Meandering Spirits

    I also have discovered this same thing through dealing with chronic illness for nearly a decade. I now can sleep whenever I need to because I am home all day with no obligations. I had the same thought as you about what effect it would have on us if we could awaken naturally without an alarm and sleep when needed. I did some research and discovered there are many health benefits (physically and emotionally). It is a shame that I have to be chronically ill to enjoy this. If I were not ill I would not be able to do this and would be judged by society for it. We have talked ourselves into mechanical behavior. We are machines where everyone and everything else is more important than the self.

  • Wrycrow

    All excellent points; what would you recommend in terms of sleep for those of us who need to work the 9-5 grind and can’t have the afternoon nap we need?

    • Nimue Brown

      I wish I knew. its something that calls for radical social change and a massive shift in priorities. Shorter working days would do it – and there’s plenty of reason to think that would be better for most of us and would lead to a better sharing out of workloads, but in terms of personal solutions? Without some kind of flexible work practice in place, I can’t see many options.

  • EbonDragon

    When you join the military and go through boot camp you quickly learn that the greatest reward you can get for a job well done is a 20-30 minute nap! 🙂

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