Today, 12/15, is the last day to order from our shop in time for Christmas!
Over the last few months, I’ve had so many conversations with others about sleep. (It actually came up a few times onthe podcast, specifically, my chat with Ruth Chou Simons). Maybe it’s the way our world has changed over the last 18 months or maybe it’s always been this way, I just haven’t been as attuned to it, but suffice to say, many of us aren’t sleeping well.
In August, I sent out a cry for help to several friends after having another wave of fitful sleep and I was met with other women who too were having terrifying dreams and very traumatic sleep patterns as well. We resolved to pray for each other when we inevitably woke up in the middle of the night and we very quickly saw God move in our sleep.
If you find yourself struggling to sleep at night, not because of babies keeping you up, but from anxiety, insomnia or what feels like spiritual warfare, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Today, I wanted to share a few things with you that I hope will encourage you and maybe even get you excited for sleep again.
Welcome to the midnight club. I’d love to cordially invite you to join us in praying for each other on those nights we can’t sleep or wake up with our hearts racing after a bad dream. Leave your name in the comments below and I’ll add you to my list of people to be praying for in the middle of the night (which I keep in my journal next to my bed). And if you’re reading this and struggle with sleep, would you read through the comments and add names to your list too?
If you’ve read Pray Confidently and Consistently, you might remember me talking a lot about sleep in the chapter on spiritual warfare. (If you don’t have the book and this post is resonating, I highly recommend grabbing the book!) It’s where I felt the battle raging often. The chapter got so long that I had to cut a story out that I think would encourage you today:
I started making a habit of seeing my unexpected wake up calls in the middle of the night as opportunities to pray and it was fun to see who God would put on my heart. Sometimes it was a family member. Sometimes an acquaintance.
One night the name “Stephanie” came to me. I thought of two Stephanie’s that I knew and prayed for them. A few nights later, the name “Caleb” came to me. I couldn’t think of a Caleb I knew, but then remembered our new neighbors down the street, Caleb…who was married to Stephanie! I hadn’t thought to pray for her that night “Stephanie” came to mind because the other two names popped up so quickly but I for sure prayed for her this night. I saw her the next day and mentioned it to her. She wasn’t having some crazy moment when I prayed (though she was very pregnant which is always a cause to pray, no??) There was no earth-shattering “Woah! That’s nuts!!” story. Instead, just a sweet reminder that God we really are God’s kids. And God pursued one of His kids to pray for another one of His kids.
Fun story. Stephanie and I are friends now and I can’t help think what she must have thought seeing me, someone she barely knew, leaning out my car window to stop her on the sidewalk to ask if anything crazy was going on in her life because God put her on my heart to pray. 😆
A PRACTICAL PLAN
1. Get a good night routine. We know all the things we should be doing. Wind down hours before bed, not fill our mind with scary movies, get away from the blue light. But do we really do it? I notice a clear difference in my sleep when I focus on the things I’m about to share.
- Routinery – I use this app and have found it really helpful to stick with a healthy night routine! You basically put in your routine and how long for each and start the timer. It tells you the next thing to do and buzzes when the time is up. You can add time, skip a step so it’s flexible if you can’t do everything but is sooo good to help you do things that normally get forgotten.
2. Breathe. Literally take time to slow your breathing and take deep breaths for a few minutes. Let your body physically unwind.
- Pause app – I’ve shared this before but it’s an app by John Eldridge that’s got prayers for 1-minute, 3, 5 and 10 depending on what you have time for. I shared more about it here.
3. Take time to think and reflect. Slowing down and thinking sounds silly but is so important. Otherwise, we dive into bed with our mind racing and of course, things get squirrely if it’s the first time in our day we’ve been able to really think apart from the distractions.
- Evening prayer – I wrote an evening prayer that’s on our podcast, Prayer in a Noisy World, to help unwind at night! It’s 4 minutes and helps you reflect on the day!
- Evening journaling – Check out this post for a written out wait to reflect on the day.
4. Relax the body. Our bodies are up against a lot. We spend more time indoors and sitting more than most generations before us. We have stressors all around and a fast-paced world that often keeps our stress levels constantly on high alert. Relaxing our bodies before bed is a great way to replenish and steward our bodies well.
- Anxiety Ease. I love essential oils but I’ve never been one to see any drastic difference. I mainly just love how they make me feel or freshen the house. This essential oil though, I have seen a noticeable difference in my anxiety when I’m really feeling overwhelmed. I diffuse this an hour before bed in our room.
- Epsom salt bath. I’ve heard the flakes are better and will be trying that next but I am actually interested in trying these that have other nutrients specific for anxiety or insomnia.
- Stretch. Loosen up the body with a few of your favorite stretches. I love the rest position in pilates. See here.
- Supplements. I am not a doctor so I won’t give specifics but magnesium supplements or a drink like Natural Calm may be helpful!
5. Be prepared. What do you do when you wake up in the middle of the night? Lie there in the pitch black getting more anxious? Have you had any nights that were surprisingly peaceful when you woke up? What did you do? Color? Read fiction? Pray? The other night, I woke up at 2:40 and tried to fall back asleep for a little bit and when I couldn’t I went in the living room, turned on our Christmas tree lights and instead of turning on a light to read, I grabbed my book light and the dark wasn’t overwhelming but was actually really peaceful. I prayed. My creativity exploded and it ended up being a really unexpectedly refreshing time.
6. Pray. Ok this has been sprinkled throughout but here’s a few specific ways to incorporate prayer.
- Ask friends to pray for you. Join our midnight club but also, tell a friend and ask them to pray for your sleep.
- Don’t just pray before bed or when you wake up in the middle of the night. Pray for your sleep. Restful sleep is literally a line in my personal section of my prayer journal all the time. Along with Psalm 4:8.
- Commit to praying for others if you’re up in the middle of the night. This has really helped night time anxiety too because I’m not just praying in a panic for myself but I’m putting my thoughts and prayers on others.
- Ask God what to pray for? I talked about this more in the book too but maybe God is waking you up to pray for someone? And maybe you don’t even know who that person is? Accept the mission with joy and expectancy and see what name the Lord lays on your heart!
What if being awake in the middle of the night wasn’t such a burden?
What if it became sweet moments with the Lord and a refreshing time in prayer? That might feel impossible but I’m proof it’s possible. I cannot tell you how many restless, anxious, and just downright weird loops I’ve found myself in in the middle of the night. I dreaded the sight of my bed because of what I knew awaited me. The Lord has redeemed my sleep so much and I’m still thinking about that sweet prayer session enjoyed under the lights of the Christmas tree.
I’m praying Psalm 4:8 over you my sleepy friends. May you lie down and sleep in peace for the Lord makes you dwell in safety. And when you can’t sleep? I pray it’s a sweet and refreshing time with the Almighty!