Overpowering the Sleep Thief

Does this happen to you too? I go through phases when I just do not sleep well. I’ve heard from other women that this is their experience as well. I usually fall asleep without a problem, but then wake up a few hours later. The sleep thief quickly steps in and exploits my momentary wakefulness to bring up daytime concerns in the darkness of the night. My mind starts going a hundred miles an hour. I fret about my to-do list. I am unsettled about what was or was not said in a conversation and I replay it over and over again. I worry about the multitude of happenings in my life. I am tormented by significant and insignificant thoughts. This middle of the night insomnia most often occurs when I am stressed or anxious. At 3 a.m. even trivial things appear urgent and life-altering. Before dawn, everything appears more pressing. Common sense, realism and sanity often fly out the window. I can’t turn off my thoughts. I consider EVERY. SINGLE. SCENARIO. of what may or may not happen (the majority of these notions are unreasonable and unlikely.)

My mind swirls.  I toss and turn.  My heart races.  My stomach flip-flops.  

I read somewhere that deep breathing exercises help to calm the mind and body, restoring sleep.  I have experimented with these, but they often have not worked for me.  I have also tried reading and muscle relaxation techniques.  I have even turned my clock around so I don’t watch the minutes tick by reminding me that I am not sleeping and how tired I will be tomorrow.  There has not been a guaranteed way for me to return to slumber.  

I recently remembered the saying “Give it to God and go to sleep” so I’ve started praying in the middle of the night when my mind is a vortex of irrational thoughts.  In all honesty, when I start praying, frequently my thoughts wander to whatever I was worrying about before the prayer, but I stop myself, get back on track, and pray some more.  Upon waking in the morning, I often realize that I fell asleep mid-prayer.  I started feeling guilty about this.  How rude of me to fall asleep when I am communing with my Maker!  I have now come to the conclusion that God would probably say, “My child, you have handed over your troubles and found peace and rest in me and that is exactly how I want it.”  Matthew 11:28 NIV “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”  

Sleep thief, please stay away.  If you do return, I will overpower you by finding rest in the only one who can give true peace.  Philippians 4:6-7 ESV “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

2 thoughts on “Overpowering the Sleep Thief

  1. I think that we all do this at one time or another. It usually happens to me when I’m training for another part of my job. I worry that I won’t complete it perfectly. Prayers do help. Great blog! Love you, Mom

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