Sleep researchers categorized people into two: the “larks” and the “owls.” The larks refer to the morning people; those who prefer to go to bed early, wake up early, and are most productive during the first part of the day. The owls are the contrary. They’re more alert at night so they prefer to go to bed late and consequently wake up late as well.
Most of my fellow students are functioning as the night owls. Essays, readings, and exams are keeping them awake at night, accompanied by coffees, bars of Snickers and songs from the Pandora station. Things were even worse during the major deadlines, such as during the time to submit the final research paper. They would skip sleep for days before the deadline!
This is no surprise because everywhere student’s life is always associated with sleep deprivation. But not me. When I was a student, I can never live in the owl’s time zone because I love to sleep! I’m one of those folks who still sleep regularly even during the major deadlines. I’m not saying that I’m always on top of my papers. I’m just the type of person who will try to do my best during the day and will try to be happy with whatever result that I have by the end of the day. Que sera-sera, whatever will be, will be. I don’t think I could better whatever that I’m working on by staying up late, because I wouldn’t be able to think anyway if it’s already past my bedtime hours.
So if I’m not an owl, am I a lark? I don’t think so. I know I’m not such an early riser, especially during the dark and cold winter months. So I guess I’m left with whatever type of bird out there that the researchers use to describe people who simply love to sleep. Yes, I enjoy sleeping and sleeping always come so easy, an effortless process.
Strangely a couple of days ago this wasn’t the case. For three days in a row, I simply could not sleep. I can feel my mind started to drift to sleep, but for whatever reason I couldn’t reach the stage of a deep sleep. Throughout the first night, I was very much awake and restless. On the second night, I still couldn’t sleep despite the fact that I was really tired due to the sleepless night the day before. And still another long night happened again on the third night. I’ve tried drinking a cup of milk before I went to bed, meditating, controlling my breath, counting sheep… But my eyes would still stay wide open. It was really tiring and I don’t know from where I got the energy to go to work in the morning.
So what could be the reason for all this? It was really unusual for me, especially considering how I enjoy sleeping. I tried to figure out the causes of these three sleepless night, but I really have no idea. All I know is right now I came to appreciate something that I’ve always been taking for granted: the gift of sleep.
It’s always too easy to see the ability to sleep as a given, something that comes to me naturally, something that I own. But no, it really is a gift, a favor that I receive every day. It’s like my health. Or my digestive system. Or the ability of my fingers to type all these words by the command of my brain. I can’t claim any of these as my own, they are all the generous favors that I receive from God every day.
Let me share the reading from my advent devotional book this morning:
Sometimes I can travel through life and not be “watching” how much blessings I’m receiving. Maybe I need to wake up and say to God, “Thanks for life. Thanks for each day. I know everything is all yours, and today I’ll try to use well whatever you have given me. I’ll try to use my money well – it’s yours. I’ll try to use my health well – it comes from you.”
So my friend, these were all the things I’ve been thinking about, while you were sleeping.