Insomnia can be devastating (in some cases fatal) and there is a special place in the irritating file for waking up a few minutes before one’s alarm goes off. Being torn from slumber by a terrifying nightmare is less than pleasant and if the house is being burgled or the neighbours are engaged in a particularly noisy dispute it can make for a disagreeable evening. Then there’s snoring, noisy parties and various natural disasters. So being awake in the wee small hours has a poor reputation, but – the above circumstances aside - there is something very special about waking in the middle of the night.
Whether you are alone or with company, the relative peace and stillness lends itself to all too rare moments of reflection and creativity. Often there seems no reason to wake up, but in those moments before drifting off again I usually enjoy just lying there being along with my mind, letting it have its way.
How wonderful is the realisation (perhaps at about 6am) that it’s the weekend or a public holiday or – better yet – you’re on vacation. Simultaneously soothing and exhilarating. The sleep that follows is often rich with dreams, with strange worlds and adventure. Even waking to find that it was yesterday that came with the unusually early start is a great feeling. Today you still have 2 or 3 hours to snooze.
I remember many years ago waking up very early in the morning and wondering why. Then I farted. I was amused and impressed and would have pondered the circumstances a bit longer, but I almost immediately fell asleep again. When my alarm clock went off I recalled its flatulence equivalent and laughed out loud. I love the fact that my body was able to recognise the need to fart and so wake me, but only long enough to achieve gas evacuation. After that there was important sleeping to be done. On a few occasions I have actually woken myself up laughing, and it is a tremendous way to start the day.
If you happen to be in love, you might find that early morning waking becomes more common. It can be an aching wake, but so profoundly sweet and addictive. That accompanying reminiscing, imagination and yearning were captured so simply and so well in Bob Hillard’s lyrics to In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning, made famous by Frank Sinatra. Those moments should be cherished.
I have spent countless hours (or perhaps minutes, it’s so hard to tell) lying in bed musing on all manner of themes, some useful, some troublesome, many just interesting. I treasure the opportunity to follow a thought all the way to it’s (il)logical conclusion, and now I kind of feel like a nap.