The Drama of 2:00 a.m.

One of the most common threads that I have noticed weaving through conversations with women in midlife is experiencing the “Drama of 2:00 a.m.” Eyes popping open after several hours of sleep and giving everything they’ve got to staying popped open, well before the birds start their morning songs and before any reasonable person could say, “I feel rested.”

When I began having my obligatory 2:00 a.m. dramas a year or so ago, I consulted one group of my friends who are all about 10 years older than me (and that much ahead on figuring out strategies to manage midlife. ) “Take Melatonin,” they said. “This will help your sleep issues a lot, and in a natural way.” I followed their advice and the Melatonin has helped—many nights I sleep uninterrupted as if I were a young, sprightly 30-year-old!

But then I recently came upon another type of 2:00 am restlessness, caused less by midlife hormone changes than the state of being overly wound up in my day-time life. My husband and I were facing deadlines for travel decisions and feeling pressure to decide from the travel agent; trying to pick a new health insurance plan, which also involved deadlines and risks associated with waiting longer; involved in a sports tournament with our son that involved a lot of driving and being away from home; and enduring an unpleasant occurrence of little critters coming in our home from outside – and doing all the work of getting them to go away!

Thankfully, during one of my 2:00 am moments, I remembered some helpful words from one of my spiritual teachers, Michael Schiesser http://www.michaelschiesser.com/, spoken a few years ago. Michael spoke of sleeplessness in terms of “the yin and yang,” saying that the yang or the “get things done” energy can get super-charged and overpower the yin or “allow things to unfold” energy. He added that there is a natural and daily ebb and flow between the yin and yang energies, unless we allow one to overtake the other and create an imbalance. And, our American culture heavily emphasizes the “yang,” and even advocates over-engaging it.

I realized that in the midst of my over-activity, I had inadvertently let go of many of my normal routines that help me keep my yin and yang in balance: having a morning quiet time, walking by creek several times a week, stopping after working hours to put my feet up and read for half an hour, and getting some reasonable down time on the weekends. In the name of what I gave up these important routines, I am not sure. Perhaps in the name of getting it all done, or meeting others’ expectations, or wanting the satisfaction of feeling “on top of things.” But certainly not in service of honoring myself and my inherent need to live in balance.

And so it is with a pledge of honor to myself and with gratitude to Michael that I take time to write and have quiet time this morning and make a plan to end my work this afternoon in time to put my feet up for a few minutes. Both gestures I do as invitations to my hijacked yin to return to my energy field to complement and balance my overcharged yang, and help me feel steady again.

Posted on June 15, 2011, in Midlife Opportunities and Challenges and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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