The "can't sleep blues", what a weird way to spend a night. You know the program; exhausted, and needing sleep? Guess what, you can't get any! Your mind is all lit up, ready to solve any problem...except for one; the one about how to get to sleep!
One sees pictures sometimes of big outdoor cookouts. The big side of beef on a "spit" (who cooks this way anyhow?), slowly rotating over an open fire. The "can't sleep blues", features you...as the beef! Spin this way, twist around that-a-way; flop over, and finally it comes to you; "I think I'm wasting my time, this is stupid, why not just get up and read or something?". The whole brainwave about going to bed was to "do" about four things (and, no; one of them was not sex), and those four, (so far) are remaining undone.
As I see it, while in bed, we are trying to:
1. Sleep, as in, to unconsciously "float", to surrender self directed control...we trust!
2. Rest, as in, rest muscles, drain lymph, filter blood...we refresh!
3. Dream, as in, to view scenes or interact with characters...we seek directionality!
4. Zone, as in, to transition between states in a hypnagogic trance-like capacity...we drift through mist!
For at least a year now, I have "seen" the need for the first three. You can rest, but not sleep, or you can get some sleep, and still not arise rested! Further, if we do not dream, such a lack begins to seriously disorder the mind. Only in the past month or so, has the hypnagogic state appeared to also be necessary. In some ways, it's the most interesting one of the batch.
That transitional phase, we not quite asleep, nor fully awake, begin to "see". Flitting, partial "pictures", fractured partial images, which keep morphing. Is that a face? Look, the face is changing; now it's ...a wolf? But it's not like we actually have the time to recite, and notate these, they are swift! And, if you begin to comment on what is "there", they just go away, the zone lifts, and we are back again to full wakefulness. The images go-away, until the next time you are "about" to enter into sleep by first entering the zone..
To me, the hypnagogic is "misty", it's a foggy-brain. That zone-state is a bit like our world. Was it Pascal who said: "There is enough light to see, and enough dark to hide-in"? Ours is a type of twilight-world then, a mid-way, neither fully lit, nor completely dark. The zone then must be entered, or you will not get to sleep. Who talks about the zone?
Meanwhile, the dream state has (in fact) too much written about it. Everybody and his little sister is just dying to talk about dreams, and their significance. It seems silly then to me to have to mention it, but has anybody else noticed that (basically), dreams are about sight? If humans are consistently "about" anything, then it is (I believe) pattern recognition. We are constantly "sampling" our world. How to "get resolution" on a problem? How, or when does "the big picture" come into focus? Can we, by searching find the pattern, by which to understand things? Dream lives "here".Think of our ancestors without man-made lights, is that shape a bush or a bear? In dream, we are "saying" with visual metaphor, with picture-pun, that we "see the solution" to the vexing problems of life.
As for the reality of "getting some rest", is it really so surprising that just reclining for 25 minutes during the day can so recharge you? System recharged, body and mind refreshed, although we expect it, we are consistently surprised by how well it works? Weirder yet, very few of us ever (in our lives) learn how to intentionally rest, so to bring on this body strength, at will.
Finally, we think of sleep per se. "Good sleep" includes all four factors, and I'm guessing that this list is probably incomplete. Maybe there are five or seven factors of "good sleep", I wouldn't know. But, in thinking this over some, the quote (which I shall proceed to mangle), "Our souls are restless, until they come to rest in Thee" keeps coming to mind. Was it Augustine who said that? Whoever it was, think of motors. An AC motor can be used as a doorstop, a paperweight, or a weapon; but it will never be used properly, until we juice it with 110 volts, and then it purrs! Function, properly executed, signals design at origin. Sleep, our sleep; "points at Somebody".
Consider finally with me then, sleep. He owns it, it is a "memory, a hint, a whisper" directing us back to the Mighty Maker. The hypnagogic entrance portal is "our world". Some light, some dark; we get fog, everything out of focus. Shapes drifting by, we are to "relax" into rest-ful sleep, and we simultaneously hold back, asking;"Is it safe?". Ultimately, He judges us for our words, our acts, and our hearts. Were we the ones "hiding" in the fog? Or were we using that light (what little there was) to better orient ourselves or others toward our true home? He judges the intentions of the heart! He owns the zone, in that (really), we await Him. He is the One emerging out of the fuzzy background, for us to thus recognize the One Face we have always longed for.
As for "dream", Ziggy Freud aside, the "picture" we are trying to grasp, the diagram which will make sense of things, as the "big picture". This just so happens to be His strong suit (from our perspective at least). Sweeping across the age, He "directs" reality, writes the script of the play, writes the revues, and is the protagonist/lead Actor to boot! The solution we are trying to understand (the picture of order and coherence?), the fix for our confusion, anger, and sadness, when "seen;" is a depiction of Him!
The "rest" that we feel that we just must have some, is a picture itself. The Biblical ideas of rest, sleep, and death, these are an appointment which we do (indeed) keep. We recline, and we rise again, we "go down and go up". The truth of being refreshed and energized is a dim whisper of that coming fully-jazzed, rip-roaring glorious gladness his folk shall be known for. It itself, that vital, heart-driven triumph, is prefigured, here and now, by what we deem to be "refreshment". Which brings us to sleep proper
In my opinion, the Bible could be summed up with a bumper sticker reading; "Yeah, but do you trust Me?". To sleep, is to release, to drift un-directed, and vulnerable. The verb "to fall" is the usual way to say things. While falling, (during the downward trip), the very last thing you do is "control! Ultimately, and really, we are to emerge from our bunkers, lay down our weapons, and surrender to our Captor, "to control" is not our word, to apply to life, it is His.
So, we surrender and He promptly puts us "to death"! We go to sleep, and in our helpless drifting, entrust our souls to Him, our Dad! We "go down" in weakness, all weak and small, arising anew; awakened into immortality, light and power. This is His show, and He's the star. At the bottom of it all, He (in Person) is the solution for our sad hearts. He the one carrying us in the "dead" state, yet safe, secure, and guided. How (after all) do we go about guiding a passive, uncommunicative, numb and unaware lamb? Uh, you pick the little fellow up, and flop him across your shoulders, so to safely walk the rascal home...Pssst, this is where you come in!
Sleep deep, dream well, emerge from the mists, so to arise renewed, it is His gift to you.