Do you get enough sleep? I’m guessing that you don’t, at least not all the time. I used to think that my occasional lacking sleep was my individual issue. At least, until I read a piece some years ago by Kate Harding called Wake up, Women: Sleep is a Feminist Issue. Putting sleep in the context of gender equality was a revelation to me.
The phrase Sleep is a Feminist Issue has been on my mind ever since, with all its implications and ramifications.
It has helped me recognise – and create – some boundaries that were unfamiliar to me. I’ve become more aware of my needs, and of things that influence and affect me. For instance, having an early night was an undeserved luxury once upon a time, whereas now it is a feminist activity. I’m looking after me, so that I’ll be a better person and by extension be better to others. I have finally realised that being rested and well is not a luxury.
Feminism has helped me break some very unhealthy patterns, such as always giving too much and using up my energy reserves. Have you ever found yourself in a place where you’ve got nothing, absolutely nothing left to give, and no way of restoring yourself? Unless I find myself in some kind of emergency situation, I don’t intend to go there again…
For me, feminism has been a long journey with lots of little steps. There are still things I haven’t figured out, and I still have relapses. But I have learned about how to look after myself, how to be true to myself, how to be a good friend and how to ask for help when I need it. I’ve also learned about how to give without wanting anything in return, until I don’t want to give anymore. I’ve set some boundaries, which are mine to set. Within these, I give and love freely.
So when I turn in early tonight, I do it with a clear conscience and with delight. There’ll be no guilt for all the things I haven’t done, because they will be dealt with tomorrow. There is such freedom in getting enough sleep, and the longer I practice this habit of sleeping well, the better it becomes. It is only through getting enough sleep that I have been able to get such a great education. And recover from illness. And be focused and efficient during the daytime.
When sleeping, we humans process information, emotions and experiences. So sleeping actually helps us to make sense of what’s happening to us. Sleeping helps us fend off illness, helps the body repair itself and lets us grow older gently, beautifully. While sleeping the balance between body, mind and soul also changes. This nocturnal balance is crucial to our spiritual growth, but also to our mental health and overall development.
I look forward to hearing your experiences with sleep as a feminist issue.