My personal experience
How much sleep would I get if I go to sleep right now?
As a child, I used to have a terrible time going to sleep. Sometimes, I would be awake almost the entire night. I had a real aversion to snakes and I would lie there imagining myself falling into a pit of snakes! (Please don’t try to psychoanalyze me in that regard <grin>.)
Even later in life, I continued to have problems getting to sleep at night. I don’t recall the exact date that I started to overcome my insomnia but, in time, it has been a total change! My wife gets a little frustrated that I can go to sleep “as soon as my head hits the pillow.” (I sometimes snore and that keeps her awake.) Many people ask me HOW I do it. I hope to give you some of my answers in this article. First, we need to understand insomnia.
What causes Insomnia
The WebMD website states that the major causes of insomnia are depression, anxiety, and stress (especially if it is long term or chronic). When you recognize that stress is causing difficulty sleeping, the National Institute of Health website lists these (and other) techniques to cope:
- Set priorities-decide what must get done and what can wait, and learn to say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload.
- Note what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
- Avoid dwelling on problems.
That is some pretty good advice. The problem that I had (and it is probably the same with many other insomnia sufferers) was that my mind would not stop thinking and allow me to go to sleep.
Peter Michaelson speaks of the cycle of not being able to sleep and then worrying about the effect that the lack of sleep causes. He calls it “sleep catastrophizing” (dwelling in a fixated manner on worst-case scenarios).
The insomniac becomes agonizingly focused on the consequences of not sleeping: “I’ll be exhausted tomorrow”; “I won’t get my work done and I’ll get in trouble with my boss”; “I’ll be overwhelmed by a backlog of work.”
How to get a good night sleep
The simple answer is to stop worrying. But knowing that we should not dwell on problems is a lot easier than actually turning off the worry in our minds. Consequently, stress builds and, over time, the accumulation of stress and frustration makes chronic insomnia routine.
The Sleeping Resources website offers “26 Home Remedies for Insomnia.” Some are reasonable while others border on ridiculous. All such remedies seem to be designed to help one stop worrying about the stress in their lives. Many people would say, “I have tried that stuff and I still cannot sleep.”
So, what can we do?
The solution came to me one day when I *REALLY* read the Scripture at Psalms 127:1,2. I will quote from the NIV but all the other versions agree.
1 Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.
The problem is a lack of trust in God’s care and provision. It is centered in our desire to fix things ourselves but Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.“ (Matthew 11:28 NIV)
Trusting God is the only lasting way to cope with the stress in our lives. Paul taught us how to stop worrying when he wrote to the Philippians (Phil 4:6,7 NIV):
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Do you have a comment? Do you (or did you) have insomnia? What did (or did not) work for you?