By Megan Erbacher
“When you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:24).
I envy people who fall asleep the minute their head hits the pillow; those people who have a set bedtime and keep it, and who get the recommended eight hours of sleep each night.
And I’ve never understood people who can take 20-minute naps. It takes me that long — sometimes longer — just to fall asleep.
How do you do it?!
I’ve never been that person. I’m a night owl. When I was younger, it worked in my favor at slumber parties and for all-night study sessions. But the older I get, the more I realize just how important a good night’s rest is for the body, mind and spirit.
The problem is I can’t seem to shut my brain off long enough to peacefully fall asleep. Now, with all of the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, my nighttime insomnia has only worsened.
I think it’s the not knowing; not knowing when we’ll reunite with friends and family, or when we’ll return to our church pews to physically celebrate Mass together again – or, for many, when work will resume.
All of it makes it very difficult to fall asleep, and I imagine I’m not the only one suffering from restlessness.
“… for he gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2).
I’ve tried counting sheep (or just counting). Occasionally it works; but I’ve not had consistent outcomes with it, so it’s not the best option for me.
Last year while Christmas shopping, I purchased a weighted blanket out of curiosity, and it has been a great investment. It’s a bit of an adjustment at first, but it has helped ease some anxiety while I wind down at the end of the day. However, if you’re a mobile sleeper who’s constantly rolling and moving, it may not be for you. I’d still give it a try, though.
Then, my brother and sister-in-law gifted me and my husband a sound machine. I’ll admit it helps, but there’s still the problem of getting me back to the bedroom to reap its calming benefits.
So, I’ve been contemplating other tactics to achieve restful sleep, and then it hit me: Why wouldn’t I open my bible to see what knowledge I can find there?
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
For those like me who suffer from troubled sleep, maybe we can find some peace and comfort in God’s word to guide us through dark, restless nights. We can cast our worries on Him so we don’t allow them to keep us awake at night and, instead, use the time to rest and re-energize so we can tackle the next day with a sound mind.
I plan to work on a consistent sleep schedule, and to limit any use of my phone and other devices leading up to bedtime. Hopefully, with my husband to hold me accountable, I’ll be able to improve my sleeping habits, which will cause a chain reaction of more positive thoughts and energy to tackle the next day.
“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).