Why am I Awake When I Should Be Sleeping?
95% of the people in the world have experienced, or are experiencing, periodic bouts of interrupted sleep where you wake in the middle of the night. Most common is the 3-5 AM period. How convenient! You have to be at work/school/elsewhere in a few hours, yet there you are, staring at the ceiling, or your phone, or doing anything but sleeping.
So why are we awake? Chinese medicine says that 3-5 AM is the time of the lungs. In Chinese medical thought, the lungs are associated not just with breathing, but also with the emotion of grief. Grief is a tough one for most of us. It isn’t one of the more pleasant emotions. It is also one that isn’t commonly encouraged to be shown to others in public, rather it is usually reserved for our closest friends, family members, or even a therapist. This environment, where we are consciously repressing our emotions, is extremely toxic for our mental health.
Feelings are supposed to be felt. They are not meant to be medicated, needled, or herbalized away. They are letting us know that there is something in our hearts that needs attending to. Obviously if they are prolonged for years on end, it becomes an issue that needs attending, but that’s not what this article is about. This is more directed for those that experience a relatively brief period of waking up at night for a few weeks, rather than months on end or even years.
Well, if you are like most people in our society these days, chances are you don’t get very much genuine alone time. Even if you are at home alone during the day, there is the chance of a phone call, of the delivery man knocking on the door, of being called into work. That means it’s typically pretty hard for us to let our guard down and just be with our grief. So your body, in its infinite wisdom, has chosen to take advantage of the one time of the day where nobody is going to disturb you: at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning!
So when you find yourself awake at night, don’t fight it. Don’t see it immediately as a problem to be solved. Think of it as an opportunity where you can finally be alone with your heart, where nobody is going to tell you how to be, what to do, or what magical acupressure point is going to take away your grief. Because grief is not a problem to be solved. Grief is an opportunity for reflection. So use that time in the morning wisely. You can lay in bed and think, you can draw a bath, you can write down what is in your heart. But the only actual advice I’m going to spell out for you is to take advantage of this time, rather than see it as yet another thing to grieve about.
David Bonilla LA.c