Do you have trouble sleeping peacefully through the night like I do? For me the cause can be a busy mind, not wanting to slow down (party time!), worries, or a physical ailment. I know this problem can either wear and grind, tempting me to whine and grouch at my family. Or, it can draw me to God in prayerful dependence.
God has a purpose in sleeplessness and restlessness. That purpose is greater than our need for sleep. One of my favorite poets, George Herbert (1593-1633), imagined what may have occured when the triune God planned our creation. I love this ancient poem:
When God at first made man, having a glasse of blessings standing by;
Let us (said he) poure on him all we can:
Let the worlds riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span.
So strength first made a way;
Then beautie flow’d, then wisdome, honor, pleasure:
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that alone of all his treasure
Rest in the bottome lay.
For if I should (said he)
Bestow this jewell also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts in stead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:
So both should losers be.
Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessnesse:
Let him be rich and wearie, that at least,
If goodnesse leade him not, yet wearienesse
May tosse him to my breast.
George Herbert, 1633
There are many practical ideas to help one sleep better. I’d love to hear what works for you! Here are a few I’ve picked up along the way:
– Don’t eat after 7 p.m.
– Don’t be too active just before you need to sleep (walking or stretching is okay).
– Don’t eat dairy products late – they take at least 4 hours to digest.
– Ask God to relax your mind and help you sleep.
– Turn off the TV and computer at least one hour before bed time.
– Exercise (earlier in the day)
– Keep your room organized and beautiful = a restful oasis.
– An idea from my Dad: beware of pride – your ideas aren’t so important that they can’t wait until tomorrow. 🙂
– For a mind that won’t slow down, listen to the radio on low volume all night.
– Have a regular bed time, and don’t deviate from it more than 30 minutes on the weekend.
– Read or do something that relaxes you, saving a Bible verse for just before you nod off.
– Try lettuce tea. Pour a cup of boiling hot water over a handful of lettuce in a mug, and let it steep for 30 minutes. I’ve tried this once, and it was amazing how it relaxed me. One of my friends quipped, “It worked for Peter Rabbit!”
– Journal before bed. This especially helps me if I direct my entry to God, telling His all that’s on my heart.
– Pray down your mental list of needs, remembering not just your needs but the needs of others.
– To relieve your mind, keep a notepad next to your bed to jot down thoughts.
– Quote Bible verses you’ve memorized.
– List your blessings by going through the alphabet, or list characteristics of God and thank Him for Who He is: Almighty, Beautiful Savior, Counselor …
Rest isn’t a right – it’s a gift. Let “The Pulley” of restlessness draw you to God.
“I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8
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