I often wake up in the middle of the night. I don’t sleep through the night much anymore. I used to sleep through the night. Now I wake up because I’m cold or I’m hot. In winter I may have kicked off the covers in my sleep, I wake up shivering and sometimes take a hot shower to get the heat back. In summer I may wake in a pool of sweat and take a cool shower to refresh myself. Often I wake up because I’m thirsty, a medication dehydrate me. Sometimes I wake up to pee more than once in the night. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night for something more than the physical reasons like being too hot or too cold or thirsty or having to pee. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night because of what’s on my mind.
Many years ago when I taught drama, we did a play called, “Sometimes I Wake Up in the Middle of the Night.” After the class read the play, many wanted to right their own scene and did. Our production was moving and very memorable. Now, I’m finding myself writing a different scene every night. After I’ve woken up, I find myself lying in bed thinking. I used to sleep with a pad and pencil next to the bed so I could leave myself a note for the morning. It was useful when I taught. Now the thoughts are more involved and require I get up and fire up the computer. It may be something I need to Google like a fact I need to confirm, discover, or verify. It might be to identify a character in a dream or follow up on a dreamscape. Sometimes it is to edit something I’m writing or begin something I will write. It may be something as simple as a shopping list or a to do list or an idea I’ve been mulling over and come to a solution. Even though I often wake up, I always go back to sleep. But before I do, I always make my oatmeal, so it is ready for my morning tea and is creamy when I finally wake up for the day and make breakfast and enjoy that moment of peace.
Waking up now isn’t as bad as it was when I was younger. I don’t have to get up to go to work, now. I can sleep in satisfied that I responded to the call of waking up, dealt with it, and find solace before falling back to sleep again. When I was younger, I didn’t find that solace. Experience, too, helps in resolving the middle of the night ruminations. I’m finding that I look forward to waking at odd hours and contemplating things and then acting on them by writing so that when I do wake up later, I have something to review and edit. My dreams are more detailed and I remember them more clearly and they lay the foundation of something that is on my mind and then expressed through the keyboard. I have to follow the white rabbit down the hole. I wake now: anxious, excited, worried, confused, or in any number of moods. Now I can approach them, calm them, satiate them, and work them out to the point I can peacefully go back to sleep.
If I don’t write, I may finish a television program I previous saved on DVR and watch it. It may be just that unfinished program that has woken me. That’s always an easy fix. With all the choices now on television and especially with the too many simultaneous shows on, the DVR is perfect to solve conflicts in making choices. If I don’t watch television, I simply pick up the latest book I’m reading and continue. I always look forward to moving on in a book, which may be a reason I wake up. Sometimes I wake up to find the book lying opened on top of me ready to be continued. As with the DVR, I use the rewind feature to refresh my memory about a show, so I turn back a few pages to refresh the story.
When I wake in the middle of the night, it may be that I’ve had enough sleep. I may have taken a nap or gone to bed real early. Waking in the middle of the night doesn’t provide the terror it used to when I was younger and needed to sleep so I could perform better at work. Waking in the middle of the night was more anxiety ridden when I was younger than it is now, because I can go back to sleep or not and take a nap or go to bed early that night. I have more choices. Even if the reason I wake is that I have a problem, I can take the time to think about it and perhaps resolve it, or simply assuage myself to an eventual solution. When I was younger, I didn’t have that time nor the experience to deal with it. Then I only had a pad and pencil, now I have a computer to pour my thoughts into and address my demons.
Perhaps waking up in the middle of the night is our muse. I found that to be so with my young students as they wrote their scenes for their performance of waking up in the middle of the night. Waking in the middle of the night is my muse now.