3 am. You’re wide awake like someone just tapped you on the shoulder, or your inner alarm went off. Every time you turn to the clock or switch on your phone to see how much sleep you would theoretically still have left, it’s 3 am (give or take an hour).
In Nordic folk sayings, this is called the hour of the wolf. One source claims because it’s the time when only wolves are awake. Another states that the wolf is said to lurk outside your door between 3 and 5 am. Wonderful!
There’s also a Swedish movie by the same name, and it explains the origin of “hour of the wolf” a bit more graphically – which will ensure that you’re definitely going to wake up at 3 am: “The Hour of the Wolf is the hour between night and dawn. It is the hour when most people die. It is the hour when the sleepless are haunted by their deepest fear, when ghosts and demons are most powerful.”
The stuff that nightmares are made of! Everyone knows that the most common hour to die is 11 am… right?! The wolf’s nature in addition to the hour when we seem to be most vulnerable is that of a predator, and thus it’s associated with danger and destruction. On one hand, it’s the warrior and the devil on the other.
I actually like the hour between 3 and 4. It’s very quiet. I also like wolves.
Wolves are pack animals, and they howl for a number of reasons: to communicate when there is danger, a member of the pack got lost, mourning, signs of protection and declaration of territory (source: http://bit.ly/1vE6JNR). Wolves take care of one another and rely on a number of body language tools for communication. They also tend to kill only prey that is very young or elderly, sick, injured, and weak. Like this, they help keep the ecosystem in equilibrium (source: http://bit.ly/1CGrihB). Neat, right?
At 3 am, our body does something fascinating: it tries to manage the stress that we didn’t get rid of before we went to sleep. Mental and physical stress, that is! During sleep, our brain is highly active and our body is trying to rest and regenerate. According to several medical sources, waking up at 3 am is most commonly the result of a low blood sugar level (source: http://bit.ly/1AQoTSn). Your level of cortisol rises in order to alarm you to get more energy for your body to get through the night. Cortisol is one of the stress hormones. Generating cortisol happens automatically, but since it’s a stress hormone, we wake up (source: http://bit.ly/1FqGWRR).
As our body is trying to recover and regenerate, our mind is trying to sort everything out and work through what we endure on a daily basis. And around 3-5 am (give or take), their paths cross more than usual. This is not a state of emergency – everything is working, and from this little research, I take it as a nudge from all sides to take even better care of myself.
The wolves are more concerned about their pack, my body and mind are taking care of themselves and each other; my job at 3 am is simply to relax and help in the recovery process. Lights out.
(#My500words day 2)