Every morning I wake up at 5.44am. No matter what time I go to bed; 11pm, 12am, 1am; my mind and body begin a wakening dance in the black of night. One half of the body says it’s ok to stay asleep; the other urges life to brain and sticky eyes. Eventually I reach for my phone. 5.44am. Always.
Then begin the brainmares. Tiny thoughts and worries become monsters, so devastating that further sleep is impossible. A flippant remark at work. Bills. Weddings costs. Car trouble. Picking up dry cleaning. Paying for the dry cleaning. A client’s reaction at work to something I said. Thoughts swirl and build, a crescendo of worry and negativity that send my brianwaves into a frenzy and far away from the sleep I crave.
I turn to the other side. It doesn’t help. My ear clicks. I have clicky bones in my ear? I move again to try and get another click. The clicks have gone. My partner breathes deeply. I listen to my own fast shallow breaths and consider getting up. What can one do at 6am?
The gym is not open for another hour. It’s too dark to go for a walk. I don’t want to wake the dog. And besides, I don’t want to get up!
I once read that sleep is the body’s way of clearing toxins from the brain that build up during the day. If we don’t get sleep, we don’t get rid of the toxins. That’s why we feel so awful when we miss sleep. And, that’s why sleep deprivation can eventually lead to death.
I lie there wondering about the toxins. I wonder if my brain reaches the last few toxic drops and propels itself into wakefulness?
Once I have thought through all my worries, along comes the beautiful sleep. This is a sleep I fall into, about 45 minutes before I have to get up. I call it the ‘Tir na Nod’ sleep. It is so deep and magical, that nothing can waken me. And when my alarm goes off, Tir na Nod holds me. I summon all my wakeful strength and force myself from its cushiony cloud. I scream silently at it to leave me alone, to let me get up, to allow me to work, where I must go!
The beautiful sleep has gotten me into trouble many times. I have slept through trains, buses and various appointments that should have been kept. Once when I was deep in the beautiful sleep my mother, tired of screaming at me to get up for school, threw a bottle of water over me. Other times, she completely removed the duvet. I’ve also slept on while a whole tent was taken down around me. I curled further into the ground sheet and growled at anyone who dared enter the realm of Tir na Nod.
The 5.44am though is fascinating me. What does it mean? Why do I wake religiously at this time? I wonder if there is further meaning, if something significant will happen at this time. Am I destined to die at 5.44am? This morning I had a day off work and still awoke at 5.44am. I wrote this piece. And then the beautiful sleep came. Perhaps I will write every morning at this time. At least it will be productive. Who needs sleep anyway?