Sleep and I have never been best friends.
Well, the truth is, sleep is more like my enemy. It taunts all hopes of sweet dreams in the darkness of 3am.
Honestly, I’ve never been a great sleeper. I’m not the kind of girl who can sleep on the couch or sitting up in a chair. I don’t sleep well in hotels or with other people. I wake up with every little noise. Ha. Who am I kidding…I wake up even when there isn’t a noise.
In recent years, my battle with sleep had become more of a war and the enemy had me bound in the prison of his camp. I would lay down only to find myself still awake at 1am. And 2am. And 3am.
Frustrated, I asked for advice. Knowing my story, most suggested that I was simply dealing with high stress. And that was true, but there was little I could do to change the stressors in my life. I had to come up with a plan that would put my heart and mind at rest even when the world was raging around me.
I won’t lie and tell you that every night is filled with blissful dreams upon my pillow. In fact, recently I had a few sleepless nights as circumstances have whirled out of control once again. Those 3am shadows reminded me that I had gained victory over this area is gone and most of my nights were now filled with the welcome refreshment of sleep.
Knowing that many of my readers face excruciating circumstances, I thought I would offer some tips for how I changed my sleep habits.
Memorize and quote scripture
Per the suggestion of my very wise counselor, I began learning scripture passages that I could quote as my mind refused to shut off from the stresses of the day. Instead of focusing on what needed to be done or what deep prayer needs I had, I set my eyes on Jesus…the comforter of my soul.
I meditated on:
A few verses that would be great on notecards by your bed:
“He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD” (Psalm 112:7).
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him” (Psalm 62:5).
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).
“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared” (Proverbs 3:24-26).
“You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you” (Psalm 91:5-7).
“I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me” (Psalm 3:5)
“He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:3-4).
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Yeah, you heard me. I had to step away from the screen. No TV. No computer. And yes this even includes that Words With Friends game on my cell phone. I wish I could say that I made this up. I work on my computer for a living. AND I’m a single mom….my most productive work time is between 8pm and midnight. But the studies unanimously show that use of electronic devices decreases your melotonin, making it harder to sleep. You can read more here… Really? Using a Computer Before Bed Can Disrupt Sleep
Since screens are such a bad idea, I have been known to turn on peaceful music and just lie in my bed and sing to the Lord. I don’t know about you, but when I can’t sleep I get very frustrated and after several hours it gets so bad that I seriously need to focus my mind of some truth!
This probably seems like a no-brainer, but I was surprised with how inconsistent I was when I began trying to regulate my sleep. I’d fall into bed anywhere between 10pm and 1am. Hardly consistent. But, consistency helps as it regulates your body’s patterns. If you establish a general time and stick with it, you will notice that your body tends to “feel” more tired at that time.
All of the above had good results, but alone it wasn’t quite enough for me. In addition to a ridiculously high level of stress, my legs had become very restless and I was having a hard time settling my body enough to fall asleep. Surely, it was in part because I simply can not make time for exercise, but it was suggested that perhaps I was deficient in magnesium. Apparently, millions of people suffer from an inadequate supply of magnesium which causes a whole host of problems including: stress, fatigue, inability to sleep, muscle tension/cramps, headaches, weakness and more.
I thought it was a little sketchy, but I was willing to try anything other than drugs. Since magnesium is a natural substance, I began taking Natural Calm. The difference was amazing. It changed my sleep habits drastically and improved many of my leg/muscle symptoms, as well as my headaches. I can not speak highly enough of this wonderful supplement.