Who Needs Sleep? Tell Me, What’s that For?

I read that Dolly Parton wakes up around 3am to start her day.

I remember reading something about Al Roker and Tom Ford doing the same, around 4am each.

I kinda want to be that person, you know?

The Blessed Martin Luther said he used to rise at around 4am to pray because he didn’t know where else he’d fit it in his busy medieval day.

The hours of the morning feel very fruitful to me, but also very inaccessible if they follow too quickly on the heels of one another.

I’ve spent the week calling it quits at 10pm. I wasn’t always *asleep* by then, but I was in bed by then: no screens, maybe a book, but that’s it.

It was actually freeing to have a bed time. One of the struggles in adulting is figuring out what time it is, you know? I mean, not chronologically, but in that Kairos sense of time, that “time out of time” state that helps us figure out important patterns and rhythms that allow us to move well in our stage of life.

I might be in the stage where I need a bedtime, as much as I hate that idea in many ways.

But there’s a reason that monastics stick to a pretty strict schedule: it frees them. It frees them from having to figure out what time it is. I’ve heard people in the military say something similar.

Like being on a regular diet, like living out of a capsule wardrobe, having a bed time (and a corresponding time of rising) is freeing for me.

The closest I ever came to living like that for an extended period of time was when I was a camp counselor in college. There we had no cell reception, few clocks except for the watches on our wrists, and pretty simple living. There was no snacking except those given to us by the kitchen. There was time for rest and fun, adventure and quiet.

And when the sun came up, you rose. When the sun went down, you retired.

It was the most natural rhythm I’ve ever lived in. I envy that most days.

This week-long Lenten discipline is reminding me of that time in my life.

I know I am instinctively a morning person; I always have been (much to the chagrin of my partner). But I find when I can’t rise as early as I need to in order to feel like my day is full, and fully mine (we give so much of the middle of our day away!), I get off-kilter.

I’m not in a right relationship with myself, others, or the work at hand.

I don’t know if moving forward I’ll keep a strict 10pm bed time, but my plan is to make it the norm rather than the exception.

I mean, that’s what Lenten discipline’s are for, right? To come back into righteousness and exit the wilderness different than you entered it?

What about you? How is your relationship with sleep? Are you righteous in this corner of your life?

If not, what will you do about it? I’ve found that it affects every aspect of my being, including my spiritual self. In fact, that’s one of the things I’ve noticed most: taking the time in the twilight hours to meditate, center myself, and connect with the Divine has opened up my work, my parenting, my health, and the wisdom within.

Rhythms are freeing.

1 thought on “Who Needs Sleep? Tell Me, What’s that For?

  1. Tim:
    Like many, this has been one of the most difficult to manage over my 50 plus years. Early in my career and family life, I developed a regiment of up at 5:00 AM to get to the gym and start the day before most. I’d call it competitively inspired.

    My efforts were professionally supportive, but lacked any faith basis, and at times felt like drudgery. As I aged, my bedtime delayed and my time to rise got later. Life just became more and more difficult, and faith became less and less prominent in my life.

    About three years ago I experienced both personal and professional trials which left me broken and without any hope, which led me back to scripture, especially the Gospels, and the Holy Spirit touched me in a way not previously experienced. This awakening lit a flame of desire for more structured prayer and at the recommendation of our pastor was led to the Liturgy of the Hours (aka Divine Office) which is a daily process of praying at set times of the day, beginning at 6:00 AM. During the early Church, they awoke at 3:00 AM for the first prayer.

    I admit, I have only done the 3:00 AM prayers unless I awake naturally and find myself staring at the ceiling, but the typical hours of the day have brought structure to my day, similar to what you described in your blog post.

    The hardest part of this process is avoiding the natural tendency to fall into just doing the prayer, verses actually praying with the scriptures. The Divine Office is not for everyone, but I do find that allowing prayer to permeate the day at 6, 9, 12, 3, 6 and 9 opens the heart to the Spirit of God, even if simply for a few brief minutes at set times throughout the day, and when you don’t feel like praying, simply tell God hope you feel. That is a prayer too.

    And, on days where I fall short, I simply get up the next day ad start again.

    Many blessings this Lenten Season

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