Goodnight, Sleep Tight Day 4: Successful Rest
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27, ESV)
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8, ESV)
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. (Matthew 8:23-24, ESV)
For being a natural bodily function, sleep sure can be difficult. It seems that more and more people suffer from sleeping disorders or even just poor sleep habits. So many things play into our sleep routines, down to what we eat, what we’ve experienced, our brain chemistry, our environment, and so much more. If we are not taking care of our bodies and our relationship with the Lord, sleep will be difficult.
I will be the first to admit that I have terrible sleeping habits. I am currently writing this devotional at 11 p.m. and fully intend to be awake for a few more hours, writing and finishing different tasks. I am an avid Instagram scroller before I go to sleep. I tend to load up a little too much on dessert in the evenings. I will spend hours thinking through the tasks I need to accomplish and things I’m worried about for the coming days and years. Truly, I am not the role model for good sleeping habits. All these things, though seemingly small, play a major role in getting successful sleep at night.
In order to get successful sleep, we must establish healthy routines. When we create unhealthy habits, we can alter our brain chemistry and make sleeping a more difficult task. We have to retrain our brains to make sleep a habit. Lights have been one of the biggest sleep deterrents. Remember, God created the darkness of night because our bodies respond to it with sleep. Having lights on late into the evening and staring into a literal rectangle of light (your phone) right before bed can affect how easily you fall asleep. Your diet can affect it as well. Do you drink coffee or caffeine late in the evening or head to the pantry for a midnight snack? Both of these can keep the chemicals in your brain from being able to process and produce the necessary functions to fall asleep. So, what can you do? Skip late afternoon caffeine jolts, set limits on phone use, set reminders for bedtime routines, keep a dim lamp on in your bedroom for an hour before bed. All of these can help promote better sleeping habits—but you have to make it a habit.
Now, all these tips are well and good, but what can you do when your mind is swarming with anxieties and dread? Trust me, this is not as easily solved as changing your diet and switching off lights. It can be so difficult to turn off those anxious thoughts and choose sleep. However, the good news is that there is a solution—and it is simply Christ. As we discussed yesterday, we are not in control, and when we allow ourselves to hold on to worries, we are not trusting the Lord to do what He has promised us He will do. He has promised us peace. This is not the absence of turmoil, but a sense of safety that comes only from knowing that everything is in His hands. If you are holding on to anxiety and it is keeping you from successful rest, I would encourage you to talk to God. When you feel your brain start to swirl, speak to Him. Tell Him exactly what you are thinking and let Him know what your fears are. Ask Him to give you peace such as Christ Himself had on the boat in the midst of the storm, knowing that His Father’s plan was at work.
My challenge to you today is to create good sleep habits. Make the necessary changes to get good sleep and give your body what it needs. Spend some time with the Lord before drifting off and allow Him to fill your heart, mind, and soul with peace. After all, no one sleeps better than a person who has put their full faith in Christ.