Back when I wrote Pagan Dreaming, I speculated how interesting it would be if we could all just sleep when we feel like it. Sleep is one of those basic, essential human activities, but most of us are sleep deprived. Capitalist industrial clock time makes a lot of demands on what we get to do when. At the time of writing about sleep, I had a child in school and was tied to clock time.
Here I am in lockdown, with a teenage son who can take responsibility for himself. Like a lot of people, the distress caused by the virus pushed me straight into insomnia early on. Rather than fight what this did to my sleep patterns, I went with it. I’ve been getting up when unable to sleep, and sleeping when I can and the result is a glorious hot mess in which I no longer have any kind of discernible pattern.
I am never going back!
I’ve never much liked routine anyway, so the less predictable sleep pattern is giving me a different shape to each day as I encounter it, and I’m enjoying that. Sometimes I have to make an effort to stay awake for things I’ve agreed to, but there aren’t many of them and I’m getting the hang of fitting the naps in. I go walking in the night, I see the dawn up, I get my much needed outside time when there are no people in it. This has done wonders for my wellbeing.
Some nights I sleep in two hour bursts, getting up each time to stretch and do whatever makes sense. It’s fine. Some night I sleep straight out for seven or eight hours. Sometimes it’s only four or five and I make the rest up in naps. On the whole I get a better quality of sleep for doing this. I spend more time in dream sleep – naps are often full of dreams. I feel better. I no longer suffer from insomnia, I just have times when I am awake and times when I am asleep. Insomnia is really only a problem if you can’t get on with being awake when you’re awake, and can’t sleep when you’re able to.
It all feels a bit wild and revolutionary. It definitely feels like stepping out of capitalist models of living and being. It feels free, and natural. I just go with what my body wants and lo and behold, that works.