Our culture has become more and more structured. We exhaust ourselves in a relentless attempt for control. We desperately want to get every last detail organized. Then we can let go. We even have a bumper sticker: “I’LL SLEEP WHEN I DIE!”
We missed one important fact: without sleep we go crazy. It’s been proven in sleep experiment after sleep experiment. People, when deprived of sleep, slowly go mad. The famous writer of Autobiography of a Yogi spoke of the deeper purpose of sleep in one of his final recorded talks:
“…You think sleep is rest? No, sleep is a reminder of what lies beyond the state of sleep, the state of the soul. The soul as a perfect reflection of God, the soul remembers all the incarnations you have gone through when you thought you had possessions, body and a name…”
Sleep truly is restorative. Only we don’t allow ourselves to sleep when our innate body clock says it is time. Instead we take stimulants and make justifications, like: ‘I have to drink this coffee otherwise I won’t be able to function,’ or ‘I have so much to do’. Sleep is seen by many as a fight to be won. It is looked at as just another thing to overcome. It’s as if we have concluded ‘sleep doesn’t fit in with my personal will and direction’.
So an instinctual movement of life, which takes place in the natural world with such ease and flow, has turned into a stress-inducing ‘decision’ wherein we override the most basic component of life, all in the name of ‘keeping my job’, ‘being there for the children’, and other such contortions.
We never stop long enough to investigate these lies we tell ourselves. We rarely are in tune with the natural rhythm of life. Stillness and sleep are synonymous with laziness and insufficiency. Isn’t it time we saw through this falsehood?
The other side of the sleep story is the growing insomnia epidemic. Insomnia is defined as having difficulty falling asleep, frequently waking at night, difficulty returning to sleep, and waking up feeling unrefreshed. It is estimated that one third of the people in the US are experiencing some form, either chronic, intermittent, or transient.
Most people create a problem out of this. Having insomnia, though, can be a blessing. If this time is used for meditation, it turns into an incredible opportunity to be still and put all your energies towards what is most important—meeting your own true self.