It’s nearly 11pm. For a younger person, their night might just be gearing up. Truth be told, even when I was a younger person myself, 11pm was generally bedtime or at the very least pajama time. But now, as I juggle work, graduate school, and family time, I find my pajama time shrinking.
Night time used to be a time to sleep. To hang out with friends. To play board games and sip wine. In less collected times, night time was the time to cram uselessly for an exam the next morning.
Now, when the house finally quiets but for the snores of my toddler and my husband (sometimes in unison, it’s lovely really), night time is the one moment of the day that I can hear my own pulse and listen to the low hum of the heater as it struggles to keep our toes warm.
Am I still awake because I crave this quiet time? It is because if I spend just 15 more minutes on some project, I’ll be that much closer to having it all together? Or is the culprit simply the artificial light I bathe myself in, winding down from a long day by scrolling through my phone, or in the case of this very moment as I type, the soft glow of my computer screen, quietly disrupting my circadian rhythms?
Sleep in complicated, with various socio-cultural and biological hurdles that aim to block the very thing we crave–rest. For me, sleep crumbles at the sign that my kiddo needs a cuddle. When my husband steals the blankets. When my tired brain decides NOW is the best time to write a blog post. When my bladder pounds loudly at my postpartum body, longing for the days before it was rearranged with the throws of pregnancy when it had the endurance of a younger organ. I could hold my pee with the best of them. Now…I’m lucky if I can get four hours before I have to get up to pee at night.
Whatever the case is, our culture doesn’t do a whole lot to support pajama time. We push and persevere, chipping away at any moment of “free time” with notions of productivity and urgency. If I don’t get this done tonight… If I don’t finish this today… Then what? What would really happen if I stopped working at 9pm, and opted instead for pajamas and a board game, with a glass of wine? What would happen if I slept for a full eight hours?
If current research is any indication, that full eight hours would bring nothing by good to my waking life.
But if I sleep, when do I have this moment of quiet? When do I allow myself to sit and listen to the rhythm of my pulse?