3AM is a weird hour, set apart from the other hours on the clock. 8AM signals time to get ready for the 9-5; 9AM represents the average start time of business and 5PM represents the average end time of business. 5AM marks the time the early bird gets up and going before the rest of the group. 6AM represents the sun rising while 7PM and 8PM represent the sun setting. 9PM and 10PM represent either getting ready to go out or getting ready to go to bed. 12AM represents the official middle of the night and 12PM represents the official middle of the day. 1AM indicates that it’s time to wrap up your misdeeds and close down shop while 2AM is the unofficial end of tonight’s festivities. 10AM and 11AM represent the hours you sit wondering why you are sitting in a desk instead of doing what you dream. 🙂 But of all the hours, 3AM (and 4AM) have always been the hour with the strangest aura. Having lived several lives, some more irresponsible than others, 3AM and 4AM both have always been a time of reflection, anticipation, and preparation. If you are a thinker or reflect daily, you know what I mean. For those who don’t, read on.
Before the industrial revolution, time zones, and electricity, when things were more simple, people lived with the natural movements of the planet. Up when the sun comes up and down when the sun goes down; people were more in tune with the planet and the natural flow of things. But as we became more advanced, we were able to move away from this natural order. With the invention of the electric light bulb, we were able to stay up later into the night and get up earlier in the morning as we illuminated the dark skies.
Now, we are battery operated like the many electronics that consume us. Always on the go, always moving, always sifting through an abundance of useless and useful information chasing things of varied importance. Our days have become so filled that we have allowed our unfinished tasks to spill over into that natural time period of sleep, rest, and preparation. We’ve given up rest for entertainment and activity ignoring the organic necessity for rest and recharging. But what does this have to do with 3AM?
In the transition period between being dictated by the hours of sunlight to being dictated by the endless opportunities of electricity, some older writers discuss and describe a period in the middle of the night called “the second sleep”. People would go to bed around 8PM and then wake up around 12AM and then finally go back to sleep around 3AM – 4AM until the start of the day. In that time period between 12AM and 3AM, it was not uncommon for people to read, visit their neighbors, have sex, or have a number of activities that they could partake in. There was no need to stay sleep or shuffle around the covers scrolling through Instagram photos and Facebook/Twitter newsfeeds for hours. People simply got up and did something.
This phenomenon, if you will, was further diminished as we adapted more and more to the idea of the 8 hour work day, but it still lingers around for some people.
I’ve always found that my mind races early in the morning. Unfinished tasks, anxious thoughts, ambitious ideas fill my head with the many possibilities that could be. But between 3AM and 4AM, a switch turns on and my brain is clear and fresh with ideas. “And I can write this…” or “It can look like that…” It’s the entrepreneurship hour and I’m loaded with boundless optimism and the courage to succeed. “Just do it.” Is the slogan for the hour and I’m moving. It’s like Inception and in a twitch of my eye doors are flung open and hours of potential rest become a burden to the many possibilities and they’re all resting and waiting on me.
I’ve always found hope in this hour from standing on the highest parking garage and talking and planning about how things will be to searching old articles I’ve written to reflecting on where I am now and how far I’ve come. It’s a restless time that entrepreneurs and thinkers know all too well. Where the silence allows the brain to truly explore it’s own potential. The stillness and silence of the planet allows the brain to reconnect on a softer slower but more intense frequency. And as you get deeper into your own ability and potential, you hop out of bed at 3:30AM and you’re writing and making things happen but you just don’t want to, you have to.
Have you ever experienced this “second sleep” or the “3AM Wake Up” (coined)? How do you spend this time or do you go back to sleep? Have you ever had any ideas that you brought to fruition from this time?
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