In peace, I will both lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety Psalm 4:8 (ESV)
Sleep is a glorious thing and even more so at this stage in my life because it seems to be something I no longer can take for granted. Often, I wake up at 4 a.m. No matter what I do, my mind races and I am awake for another hour or so. My 6:15 alarm is painful on those mornings.
To add insult to injury, I have been experiencing hot flashes as women my age are prone to do. So not only am I awake because my brain has decided to solve all the worlds problems but my body has decided to accelerate it’s temperature control. Throwing off the covers and wiping the sweat from my brow is the only thing I can do until it passes. Most of the time these occur just at that moment when I am finally falling back to sleep but then I am wide awake again drenched in my own sweat. It feels like I can’t win.
And not sleeping has serious consequences, not only for my health but for my family. No one wants to be around me when I’m chronically tired. My temper is short and my fuse shorter. There is little peace in my life when I haven’t slept well.
The psalmist states in Psalm 4:8, that in peace he will both lie down and sleep. There is no tossing and turning in this picture. Just restful sleep. I’m assuming it’s a guy and one who doesn’t contend with hot flashes or rampant worries. He continues to say that this peace comes because the Lord makes him dwell in safety. I long for this kind of faith. In theory, I trust that the Lord can make my own dwelling safe. But at 4 a.m. when I’m sweating and thinking about all the things that could go wrong tomorrow, I don’t feel much peace nor do I feel very safe.
How can I be more like the psalmist and less like the anxious middle-aged woman that I am? I wish I knew the easy answer. I have found a few techniques that can help.
- Scripture – I have been memorizing scripture and repeating short verses in my head can help me settled down and fall back to sleep. (If you want a good app for scripture memorization I highly recommend ScriptureTyper.com)
- Hymns and Praise songs – I have a few simple songs that I sing in my head (my husband appreciates me not belting out worship songs at 4 a.m.).
- Distraction – every time an anxious thought comes into my head, I will say to myself something that stops the “stinking thinking.” One night I remember telling myself that “there is nothing to see here” over and over again. My sleepy thinking was that if I kept reminding myself that there was nothing I could right at that moment to solve the anxious situation, I could settle down and sleep.
I’m always trying to figure out a new way to replace the anxious thoughts in my head with more peaceful ones. What are your strategies for calming the anxious beast at night? How do you help yourself lie down and sleep in peace?
And maybe we can lie down and sleep in a faith as big as my kitty sleeping in a fry pan on the stove! Now that’s faith!