F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.” This guy may have been exagerrating a bit, as not sleeping is probably not ‘the worst thing in the world’. But this American author does have a point. It’s terrible to try to sleep and fail miserably.
Sleep has been on my mind lately. My friends say I think about it too much. Maybe they’re right. Working day shifts and night shifts prompts me to sleep at random hours. And because I’m sleeping here and there, with no set schedule, I think about it. There’s this little piece inside of me that will not rest until I have counted exactly how many hours of sleep I will get. So I lay in bed, using my fingers to count hoping I’ll get to use my second hand to finish counting. I schedule out my time awake, so I can be sure to fall asleep between a set time frame. This may be a tad on the crazy side. But usually, my body has no trouble sleeping on command.
The last couple weeks haven’t been usual. My scheduling, counting, and eye mask are not facilitating sleep. It’s unfortunate, as my social life doesn’t facilitate sleep, either. Hence, being awake for 34 hours with a 2 hour nap in the middle. My poor circadian clock.
Sleep has been on my mind lately. It’s frustrating to lie in bed, wide-eyed, knowing the alarm clock will go off in a few hours. It’s annoying to toss and turn when the sleeping environment is ideal. It’s aggravating to hear coworkers say the next morning, “Oh, someone looks tired.” Thank you, I know I need to buy a better under eye concealer.
I have two friends that really like sleep. One can fall asleep at a party anytime after 9 pm. He’s like a grandpa. The other friend just loves naps. Once in college, she took 3 naps before 10am. Their love for sleep hasn’t rubbed off on me. In fact, I don’t even like sleep. I kind of wish I was like a vampire, because then I wouldn’t need to sleep at all.
But I do need sleep. We all do. REM and non-REM sleep is vital to our mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
But sometimes not sleeping is okay. Sometimes the best thinking happens at night. Musicians leap from their bed to quick write down what they heard in their head. Techies create sweet websites. Writers finally find a solution to their block. Bad nights with no sleep are not always a bad thing. The sleepless nights provide insight and revelation that may have not come without the silence of the night.
Like my three year old niece who won’t take naps in fear she’ll miss out on something exciting, I tend to refuse sleep. Physically, I want to sleep, but mentally, I can’t. Because when I’m tired, I think. And I’ve been thinking about sleep. And cities. And a King.
There was a city that was sleeping and missed the birth of its King. It was right in front of their eyes and they couldn’t see that this baby would grow to save the world. That silent night, the city had no room for its King. And now there’s a city, a nation, a whole world that has no room for their King. We are a people who are sleeping. We close our eyelids to the pictures of the starving, the oppressed, the marginalized. We roll over, turning our backs to the widows, the prisoners, the naked, the orphans. Our heavy eyelids may interfere with recognizing what is happening. And I fear we may miss it. The Bridegroom is coming. And we don’t know when. I think Scriptures says “like a thief in the night” not because it will actually happen at night, but because this city, this nation, this world will be sleeping.
What will you miss while you’re sleeping?