It’s 2:55am, and despite tucking in close to midnight just a mere few hours ago, you are playing an ugly game of flip n’ flop with your 1,000,000 thread count linens and plush duvet. You know, one of those awkward hours of the morning when it is still so dark out that, for a second, you wonder if you have been blessed by the dream weaving angels above, and could it be, you just may have woken up BEFORE the alarm goes off?! Yea, dream on. You are convinced you went to bed a solid seven hours ago, but once you and the beloved iPhone make contact, that pipe dream dies along with your hopes of a productive day: it has been two hours and thirteen minutes since your pretty little head hit that pillow. Those 2am, 3am, 4am wake up calls that silently assure you that the day ahead will undoubtedly be filled with unbalanced emo, crap eating and an overall shitty vibe, all from the beautiful thing we know as sleep deprivation. It is in these hours that our minds can get the best of us – it’s too late to pop a magical sleeping pill (because you will be groggy AF when your alarm goes off in 4 hours and the pill lasts for 7 hours = hazardous), and it is far too early to call your BFF to bitch about your night of no sleep. So yea, talking to yourself internally on these sleepless nights doesn’t make you crazy, it just makes you human. Yes, these wee hours are also known as HELL. Whether or not you have too much on your mind, the holidays make you more anxious than a Mexican jumping bean, or you have absolutely NFC why you can’t get in your beauty sleep, and the random restless nights are no doubt one of the most annoying things in existence. But, the one choice we all have is how we actually deal with these nights and with the day after.
Self-admittedly: I have stooped to all levels during these shitty hours: I’ve tried to bargain (bribe) with the sleep angels, literally counted sheep (fine, Celine bags), motivated to actually go to the gym, have gotten into the car (on several occasions) to go to the gym only to realize that the gym isn’t EVEN open at this hour (WTF?) among many other too-ridiculous-to-even-list attempts. So after an hour, or several, of having an individualized temper tantrum in bed, too stubborn to admit that I am in fact up for the day, the aggravation of being fully awake before the sun rises becomes an even worse reality as you surrender, hurling the covers off of your lifeless body and inevitably, regrettably, dragging yourself out of bed.
But the reality is this: unless you suffer from insomnia or extreme hyper activity (cough, cough) these nights typically are an alternative (effing annoying) way of your inside voice telling you something is up. I don’t mean that sleeplessness suggests you are dying of some rare sickness, but I do mean that it is usually a sign that something may be cooking a little deeper, subconsciously, rather than the random wake up call symbolizing that you are ‘fully rested’ after 2.35 hours of sleep. You’re not.
I have experienced ongoing bouts of insomnia as long as I can remember, and before I realized that I am in fact one of those people who does survive on a few hours of shut eye every night (not as glam as it sounds), it literally used to bring me to the brink of insanity. But, as time has gone on, I have figured out how to make the best of these times and am here to tell you that you can, too. Instead of being a total sleep deprived asshole all day long because you missed a few hours of shut eye, you can actually be the happiest person ever on these days because (aside from the annoyance of not being able to stay swaddled in your bed) you have the opportunity to get one step ahead while everyone else is sleeping. NEWSFLASH: these hours are pure GOLD: truth be told, I actually LOVE being awake during these wee hours. I can get emails done with no interruption, blast my beats headphones and bust a move with zero judgement, squeeze in a few solid hours of writing pre-sunrise (so that I can grab that latte and mani mid-day, #priorities), get a few loads of laundry done (or not) and, believe this, I can prep that nights dinner which, let me tell you, saves a good hour plus of fretting late day when the beloved Starbucks is screaming your name and, once again, the cycle of contemplating if it is now too late for caffeine rears its hideous head.
But, these free hours of uninterrupted bliss also allow for a minute of self-reflection that would otherwise not be so easily attainable. Granted, my wee hours of “inner reflection” typically start with me jumping in the car wearing a full on (shameless) sweatsuit cranking YoungBloodZ’s ‘Snap Yo Fingers’ at a ridiculous volume on the prowl for the closest open establishment selling coffee, but, the fact is that these hours of frightful silence and calmness surrounding offer solitude for those of us who are bombarded with the over stimulation of what we call life (and relentless social media 🙄), and especially for those who rarely have a minute to themselves. As I said earlier, often times, there is an underlying reason that our bodies won’t let us sleep – take a minute and actually listen to yourself. It is that simple – just silently ask yourself “is something upsetting me” and then … wait a few minutes. It is unbelievable what your mind will tell you when you just listen. Maybe even write a journal entry, write it on a cocktail napkin for all I care but you will likely be amazed at what will come to mind the minute you take a breath, put your phone DOWN (yes, stop trolling Instagram) and put a pen to paper or napkin. While this is the norm and a year round thing for me, the holidays being around the corner make sleepless nights more common than you would think. Whether the holidays get you more excited than a five year old on Christmas morning with visions of sugarplums and Hermes bags keeping you up for days, or if the holidays bring on emo’s you would rather not deal with, these wee hours can be productive IF you allow them to be. How about taking 30 seconds or even three minutes to meditate? Maybe write in a gratitude journal? Maybe start one? Or why not do something you haven’t done in ages: make pancakes or sneak ice cream for breakfast? Mix it up! Okay, so you don’t feel like tapping into your inner Tony Robbins or rebellious ‘I’m a big kid now’ then, simply put, get shit done. Wrap presents. Do sit ups. Write a hand written letter. Fly a kite. I don’t know, but don’t let these precious hours pass you by when you can make them count.
Case in point: Did you know that Walmart is open 24/7? YEA, IT IS. And yes, I absolutely LOVE Walmart, how can you not? They have every single thing imaginable and *sleepless secret*: the obnoxious fluorescent lighting actually assists with waking your ass up. Think: Vegas casinos – see my point? And as we all know, OBVIOUSLY you can shop online 24/7, so why not brew up the Illy machine, pour yourself some espresso, cocoon yourself in that cashmere throw and get to some tap, tapping of purchasing presents on your iGadget? Get some presents off the gift-list, and why not add some more names to the shit list – go wild! I have prepared a list of suggested activities for these wee hour nights below for all of my fellow sleepless GG’s, and above all, if you are blessed enough to have melatonin, some sort of magical prescription cocktail/sleeping aide, or easy access to an over the counter PM/sleepy time pill, well…pop those like they’re tic tacs because let’s be honest: nothing, and I mean nothing, gives you a better nights sleep than those magical pills.
GG’s suggestions for the sleep-deprived among us on those sleepless nights:
For the home-bound, the out-bound and the straight up soul-searchers
For those who prefer to not leave the house and to not get insightful:
-2 words: Retail. Therapy. The wonderful world of www.com allows us to indulge in everything we ever dreamed of – go get ’em dream-weaver. A little shopping never hurt anyone, ever.
-Read a book: an actual book, not kindleeeee, not iBooks. A BOOK, like one with real paper. Get OFF the digital gadgets and gizmos for the love of God.
-Prep dinner: open up a cookbook to a random page and try something new – if this makes too much noise and risks waking the rest of the household, then insert digitize gizmo and Google new places to try for take out or to go try for din – www.ctbites.com always has fabulous rec’s for the area, and you can even sign up for their weekly email with updates on the latest and greatest in the foodie world.
For those who would rather run like hell out the front door than stay home during these hellish hours:
-There is ALWAYS some sort of drive-thru coffee available. And don’t get all coffee snobby on me either. It’s 3am. You are dealing with the drunk’os getting their late night snack on and truck drivers who wake up at this time or drive right through the night on the reg: it may not be Starbucks but Dunkin Donuts, Donut Delight, hell, even 7-Eleven. All suffice, trust me.
-Go to Walmart: Clearly, I cannot stress this enough. Again, it is incredible what Walmart allows 99% of the population to accomplish if you just give it a chance.
-Go to a diner: unless you are in Podunk there is no doubt a 24 hour diner within a ten mile radius. Find it. Love it. Embrace it.
For those who wouldn’t mind some inner exploration:
-Write. Write. Write: actual pen or pencil. On paper. Studies prove that handwritten notating is more mind-body-soul connecting than typing. And if said “dear diary” entries are personal then hide that priceless paper somewhere safe once it is inked.
-Listen to a positive affirmation/religious or motivational podcast: I am obsessed with Joel Osteen and Tony Robbins, and we all have our preferences and beliefs. Both have free podcasts on iPhones, and for those of you who are looking for an app that offers meditations, check out the free app called SoundCloud – you can explore thousands of meditations and find your namaste!
-Sit outside: if you aren’t afraid of the dark, get your tush outside and just SIT. Take in the air. Breathe slowly and enjoy the moment.
For those who don’t give a shit about any of this and want to effing sleep:
-Get to the doc, get a script, and take that Xanax.
-Over the counter PM’s work wonders – Tylenol PM is fab.
-Cut off digital gizmos an hour BEFORE BED.
-Keep your phone on SILENT while you sleep – I still am baffled at people who don’t, like hello, are you kidding me…
-Drink sleepy time or calm tea before bed.
-Have a glass of milk and or a piece of whole wheat bread with peanut butter when you wake up in the wee hours: don’t ask but it works.