What we do if we go to bed and are unable to drop right off to sleep? What can we do if we wake up in the wee hours of the morning and cannot get right back to sleep? Jesus was able to sleep on a rocking boat during a severe storm—until his disciples woke him up to save them (Matthew 8:23-27). We don’t all sleep so soundly.
There are many suggestions on how to alleviate bouts of insomnia. I have heard that not looking at a television or computer screen for a while before bedtime could help. Of course, avoiding caffeine hours before bedtime might solve the problem. Endeavoring to change from your “worry channel” to your “trust-in-God’s-love channel” is another idea; I know that is not the easiest thing to do, but deep breaths and prayers for our Blessed Mother’s intercession could be ways to achieve your goal.
I read an article years ago in a women’s magazine that recommended lying down and concentrating first on your feet, and then, in turn, thinking about and forgetting your legs, torso, and finally your head. The suggestion did not make too much sense to me, a grammar school student.
I have always heard about counting sheep as a way of getting sleepy. I doubt the shepherd in the parable about the one lost sheep in the flock of one hundred was having trouble sleeping. The lesson was about how God, our Good Shepherd, sees each member of his flock as precious and worth saving. (Matthew 18:10-14) However, if we keep a Bible near us at bedtime, we could, instead of counting sheep, read and pray with Psalm 23. Repeating each verse slowly and calmly visualizing the green pastures, still waters, and right paths we have been led to might be soothing and help us rest. Prayer is never a waste of time.
If we don’t already use the Examen daily, it might be worth a try to see if it could be helpful in our wakefulness. Basically, step by step, we purposely become aware of the presence of God; express gratitude for the past day’s blessings; become more aware of how we feel; express sorrow for our sinfulness; and positively anticipate tomorrow. Details are available on the internet (https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/) and in books on Ignatian Spirituality.
Recently, when I had trouble sleeping, I started taking a trip down memory lane. I became grateful for pleasant memories and even for the quiet, undistracted time to revisit them. A little shift in attitude didn’t hurt!
Psalm 134 is a fitting way to end the day. With only three verses, it might be easy to commit to memory.
Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord.
May the Lord, maker of Heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.
And a comforting verse 8, from Psalm 4, says,
I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
Photo by Fa Barboza on Unsplash
Scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.