Tonight is the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, and you might feel a bit sleep deprived, with Holidays and the Year’s end upon us.
While the days are shorter and the nights are longer, do you find yourself wanting more sleep than usual? Maybe waking in the middle of the night and struggling to get back to sleep?
Rest assured, you probably don’t have a sleep disorder — I can certainly relate, and am looking forward to catching up on rest!
Sleep is necessary for us to “recharge our batteries” energetically, to “reset” and heal our body, mind and spirit. Good, restful sleep is deeply restorative in many ways:
- keeps our mind sharp and alert
- keeps our heart healthy with stress recovery
- reduces weight gain by balancing metabolism and cortisol levels
- keeps our nervous system functioning at the optimum level
- increases vital energy — therefore boosts our immune system and pain threshold
- boosts motivation and libido
- improves mood and relationships
One of my Bagua Zhang instructors recommended waking up in the middle of the night to train and meditate because of the lack of distractions and optimal energy flux in our bodies’ natural cycles. There are ancient Taoist manuals that recommend practicing Qi-Gong around 2am because of this energetic circadian rhythm.
I remember when I was child waking up in the wee hours of the night and having profound moments of clarity and calm. I sometimes still do this, but because of our modern perception of what our sleep cycles “should be” (8 hour blocks), I wondered if I had a sleep disorder.
You might be surprised, as I was recently, to find out it was once common to have a bi-modal sleeping pattern, referred to as ‘first sleep‘ and ‘second sleep‘ before electric lighting in homes, where people would go to sleep around 8pm, wake up between 11pm and 1am to read or write for a couple hours before returning to sleep again… therefore the expression “burning the midnight oil.”
Apparently, bi-modal sleeping patterns are more natural, and our modern perception of sleep cycles are distorted and need some revision… This lends credence to the adage “early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise“…
Here’s a great article that challenges the myths of getting “a proper night’s sleep”:
How Our Ancestors Used to Sleep Twice a Night and Highlighting the Problem of Present Shock
Other research suggests sleeping more than 6 hours at once can be detrimental
- to our muscles (due to inactivity),
- to our use of nutrients (starving then stuffing your body), and
- to our mind and perception (long periods of consciousness being separate from the body can lead to anxiety about physical reality, a sense of unnatural separation of the personality, causing a distorted view of the polarity of good vs. evil, etc).
A better solution could be sleeping in 4-6 hour blocks, and then taking a nap later on if necessary.
The truth is, we all have different individual needs that change season to season, and under different conditions. So, listen to your body’s needs, including following your own sleep patterns, and you’ll feel much better!
Wishing you and yours very Happy Holidays and a refreshingly restorative Winter!
Look within to reveal and heal your True Self!
Vajra Visions – Mace Martial Arts
P.S.: The impressive dreamlike vision is called “Winter Dragon“, by talented artist Ashley Stewart, enjoy!
First Published on: Dec 21, 2013,
Edited on: Dec 20, 2016