At least a third of our life is spent in The Night, that thin place which has always disturbed and terrified humans. Dwell for a moment on your own experiences of the night: night skies, night air, nightcap, nightmares, nightshift, night watchmen, night sweats. There are struggles around night and its different ways: adjusting to darkness, getting to sleep, staying asleep, noises, pains, the internal voices, the reviews, the dreams. Mythology is quite rich and deep in naming those fears and shoals we still encounter every night. The Greeks had Nyx as the Queen of the Night. She had been born from Chaos. Her large dark wings protect sleepers and allow visits from her many children. Let me introduce a few of the seventeen:

Oizys, is the primordial goddess of miserable distress, anxiety, grief, depression.

Her twin brother is Momos, the fault finding and humorously disagreeable god of ridicule, sarcasm, blame, disgrace. Sound like some of your middle-of-the-night visitors? But all were not terrible. There was Hemera who always brought Day after Night; and Thantos who brought a peaceful death; and Amor (love) and Philotes (friendship). This wide ranging cast of characters and characteristics emerged before Christianity sorted such things into good or evil, black or white. Before that, they were just what was, and known as daemons, but not demons. We’ve kind of lost touch with these simply regular, natural forces, sometimes dark, usually impersonal and not within our control. They are the many parts of our creative unconscious.

Our age has medicalized these energies of the Night into insomnia and sleep disorders, 80 different ones so far, and prescription medicines for nearly all. Holistically, there are ways to reconnect with The Night.

Accept the invitation of The Night and its different ways – like it’s a drive-in movie or a trip. Be curious about the impersonal intelligence of sleeplessness and what moves in through dreams.

Get back to the more original, normal rhythms of human sleep, actually two three-to-four-hour sleep times: The first deep, dream-laden sleep and then a time of awake to share dreams, read, study, play, have sex. Then back to sleep for the second or “morning” sleep.

Daniel Mack