When You Can’t Sleep
I used to struggle a lot with sleeping when my husband had to be away (#militarylife). And then, my older son (now eight) started to struggle with fear. I couldn’t help feeling inadequate as I tried to help him to trust the Lord . . . I quoted scriptures like “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.” Verses that I would tell myself as I lay in bed at night trying to fall asleep, my Bible laying beside me. And as I told my son the Bible’s truths, I chose to believe them too.
That son falls asleep to worship music every night. I love that.
And I love this fact: fear does not come from the Lord—in fact, perfect love casts out all fear, right? And God is love—and there is NO fear in love. So I one hundred percent believe that fear doesn’t come from the Lord. But, He does use circumstances for a better purpose.
And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 NET
Hearing His Voice
Kids watch us. Boy, do they watch. And listen. I wonder sometimes, did my son overhear me telling a friend or family member my struggle with fear so much it kept me from sleeping?
The crazy thing is that I used to do missions work. I’d travel abroad and go places (often travel alone) and I saw some pretty amazing times of God’s tangible protection.
Like when I was on a mission’s trip to Guatemala and we were going to minister to in town—our driver was delayed by a few minutes and because of that we missed a shooting. We could have been right there, in the middle of it.
Or like when I got completely lost in Antigua, Guatemala (I was studying Spanish and boarding with a family)—I was getting close to a bad part of town and I knew it. I stepped into a shop, and asked, “Donde esta el arco (where is the arch)?” The shop owner spoke rapid directions back to me, but I just nodded and said garcias—not able to follow his words at all.
But then I heard instructions, a still small voice. Not a loud, verbal one—but the voice of the Holy Spirit so soft you could miss it if you’re not paying attention. The instructions were simple (and English . . . ha). Turn left here, turn right there. I kid you not. I followed the Holy Spirit’s leading and found myself at the arch. From there, I knew the rest of the way.
I told my son this story recently—he was amazed. And what amazes me is that my faith can waiver even after experiences like this one. I know my parents were especially praying for me that particular trip and I’m so grateful. They always prayed hard when I was away, but my Dad told me when I returned that this trip had him praying more than usual.
I have plenty more stories I could share from my missions days, but fast forward to laying awake at night, just me and my kids at home . . . why the struggle?
Faith or Fear
I can’t say that I know. I wish fear could just be turned off. For me, I had to exercise my faith muscle. Have you ever heard it said that way? I sure have, and it’s true. I had to build my faith and remove doubt from my mind—there was a time when I had to go completely off of Facebook and stop watching movies and shows because these things would rob me of sleep.
News articles, hearing or seeing anything fearful. The enemy would use it to keep me awake at night and it wasn’t worth it.
I can tell you, after almost ten years of marriage to my soldier, I have gotten so much better on this. Not awesome, but better.
The cool thing is, even when we are sleeping—God isn’t. His protection doesn’t expire at midnight.
Maybe you struggle with sleep for a different reason than what I’m sharing about. But, friend, God wants you to have peaceful sleep at night. Do you believe that? I’m going to give you some practical tips that have helped me. I’m not a doctor or a naturopath or anything like that. Just a woman who needs her sleep to serve her family well.
Tips for When You Can’t Sleep
- Guard your mind. Especially before bed, dwell on what is uplifting and encouraging.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8 NET
- Melatonin helped me (I never took more than 3 mgs and usually half of that). Talk to your doctor, of course, about if that is something that would help you.
- Don’t go to bed too late. I’m terrible at this—I’m a bit of a night owl. But the better I’ve done at this, the more rested I am the next day. Who knew?!
- Listen to an audiobook. I have fallen asleep listening to Karen Whitemeyer’s novels.
- Listen to praise and worship music to help you unwind.
- Have some trusted friends, church leaders or family members pray for you. If you struggle with going to bed at an appropriate time, ask one of them to keep you accountable.
- Your mind racing with tomorrow’s tasks? Keep a notepad beside your bed and jot them down to give your mind permission to rest.
- Read Psalm 91. The whole chapter. Every night if you have to.
Worrying Doesn’t Help A Thing
I know, that statement doesn’t help much, does it?
Or maybe it does.
And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life?
Matthew 6:27 NET
Friends, whatever kept me up at night—worry for mine and the kids’ safety, worry about my husband’s safety or whatever it was—worry did not help even one single time. In fact, it made it worse because my perspective was off and I was more tired all the time.
There were a lot of hard years as my faith had to mature and grow (still maturing and growing). Trusting is not as easy as snapping our fingers and voila . . . perfection. Nope. But we are running a race that I hope we end better than we started (see Hebrews 12).
More posts on similar topics:
- Thankful For His Goodness Even When I Can’t See It (when my husband’s flight was canceled the morning he was supposed to return for overseas—and the miracle that followed)
- Shift the Atmosphere In Your Home (lessons I had to learn as I desired to walk in peace and joy as a young mom)
- For the Imperfect (learning to trust the Lord during the storm)
- Worry Is Not in the Job Description (trust the Lord with your cares and anxieties)
If you struggle with fear and anxiety that keeps you up at night like I did, and want prayer, feel free to comment on this post or visit my contact page. I’d love to agree with you in prayer.
(Links will take you to biblegateway.com)
1 John 4:17-19