27 October 2014

Can't Fall Asleep? 5 Things You Can Do

Over the last few months, I've had trouble sleeping sometimes.  It's a long story, and I'm still working on finding a solution for the benign heart rhythm issue that keeps me awake from time to time, but I'm beginning to realize that sleepless nights don't have to be wasted.

Normally, I'd spend the time on worry and frustration, or generally trying to solve the world's problems without success.

But thank God for being in the business of helping us form new habits, right?  Because now, rather than facing my bedtime with uncertainty, I'm learning to leave even the amount of sleep I get to Jesus.  (You saw that, right?  The word learning?)

Here are the five most helpful things I've found over the last few months to reduce my worries and fears, and to help me rest in mind and body.  I hope they help you, too.


In particular, I've begun reading the Psalms when I can't sleep.  I read them on my phone, so that I don't have to get up, go in the other room, turn on lights, and therefore wake myself up even more than I already am.  And you know what? 

I've been amazed at how many of the Psalms have to do with sleep, or with resting in God alone.  I've actually chosen to highlight all these kinds of verses in purple (you know, a purple heart message from God when my heart isn't quite beating in its normal rhythm), and now if you were to open the Psalms on my phone you would see purple scattered through almost every chapter.

What a huge encouragement when you can't predict when sleep will finally take over and you'll drift off into dreamland!


Sometimes when I'm lying awake at night, it's my prime time to worry.  Since I'm lying in bed trying to sleep, there's nothing I can do about any of the things I'm worrying about, either.  

Prayer is a great way to turn our worries, one by one, over to Someone who can act on them, night or day.  Whether I'm worried about situations, people, natural disasters...you name it...Jesus is always there to listen and strengthen.

I've had many friends say that when they're awake at night, God will bring a specific person to mind to pray for.  If that doesn't happen, it never hurts to lift up family and friends one by one, committing them to the Lord's care.

Think Thankful Thoughts

Forcing myself to remember all the things God has been doing in my life puts my mind and body at rest like nothing else can.  The more I think of that I'm thankful for, the more thoughts of gratitude come to my mind.  

It's like one thankful prayer, however simple, plants the seed for another one, until I have a whole garden full of beautiful, restful thoughts.  

Seize the Day

Many times there are things we're doing during the day to contribute to our wakefulness at night.  Consistent problems falling asleep may be coming from our daytime habits, and it's always a good idea to evaluate where we are with our health practices by asking some simple questions. Our answers can tell us a lot--if we're honest!

Here are some things I'm trying to ask myself consistently.

Am I getting good nutrition, in proper amounts?  Am I avoiding things that aren't good for me (whether junk food or other even worse substances)?  Am I eating at ideal times of the day, or do my meals leave my stomach working too hard at night when it's time to sleep?

Am I exercising consistently?  Am I drinking enough water to stay hydrated?  Am I getting sunlight (to help with melatonin and vitamin D production)?  Am I breathing fresh air?

And of course when I look at rest, sleep is not the only thing to consider.  If I'm filling the day to the max (way too easy for me to do), and not giving myself margins and breathing room, it's no wonder that my mind would keep me awake at night.

Sometimes, though, there are things happening in our bodies and minds that need more evaluation.  If that's the case, we can use the daylight hours to keep moving forward, a step at a time, toward finding a solution to whatever might be ailing us. 

Trust in Jesus

Perhaps the most important thing we can do when we can't sleep is simply to trust in Jesus.  

Indeed, all our Psalm reading, praying, and thinking thankful thoughts are designed to re-establish and strengthen our trust in Him, and everything we do to seize the day will fall flat unless it's directed by our trust in Him.

Something I've done a few times recently, when I'm not sure how bedtime will go for me, is to just tell God, ahead of time, that I trust Him with my life and health.

Even if I end up awake longer than I'd like.
Even if there's no instant cure.

I'm simply inviting Him to be in charge of my health, my sleep, and my life in every way.  If that means I read a lot of Psalms one night, I know I'll be blessed.  If that means I go to sleep right away and enjoy the rest I'm hoping for, I know I'll be blessed by that, too.

Because either way, Jesus is still the One holding my breath in His nail-pierced hands, and I can't think of a better place for my life to be.

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