Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep. Agree? But why is it such an issue today? Why do so many of us struggle to get to sleep and stay asleep? It’s insomnia—you may have problems here. The concept of ‘a good sleep’ differs widely from person to person. While the average night’s sleep for an adult is around eight hours, some people only need five, while others like up to 10 hours or more. What seems like insomnia to one person might be considered a good sleep by another.
It’s quite a complicated issue—the experts tell us insomnia is a symptom, not a disease. The cause (or causes) of insomnia needs to be identified and corrected:
- Insomnia means having trouble with how well or how much you sleep.
- People keep themselves awake by worrying about going to sleep.
- Long-term chronic insomnia needs professional support and a lot of patience.
Many of us suffer from poor sleep. I’m not qualified to give advice on this huge topic. Sleep is such a significant part of our lives we hardly think about it, unless we have a sleeping disorder. But God has designed us that we need sleep—the Bible refers to sleep quite a few times. On one occasion when Jesus and his disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee, the Lord was sleeping on a cushion in the stern of the boat (Mark 4:38). It is interesting that the Scriptures refer to different levels of sleep. At Troas, Eutychus, in a late-night church service, was in such a deep sleep, that he fell from an upstairs window to the ground (Acts 20:9).
It seems that the stress of life’s pressures today, in our 21st century, are at epidemic proportions. I’m sure it contributes to sleep disorders. Whatever we cite the problems to be that are causing our stress and our strain, it seems that everybody, in some shape or form, to a smaller or larger extent, is suffering from the pressures of life. I am told that 43% of adults suffer adverse health effects due to stress. According to USA Today, the newspaper, a survey of 501 adults was conducted by the Research and Forecast Syndicate, and they isolated the sources into these results with regards to what causes stress in people’s lives.
Believe it or not, no surprise I would imagine to you, right up there at the top was work:
- 36% of people said that work was the biggest cause of their stress.
- 32%, coming a close second, was money, financial concerns, pressures, anxieties and fears.
- 10% said that children caused them the most stress.
- 7% said it was their ill health.
- 5% said it was their marriage, and the problems they are in.
- Another 5% said it was their parents that caused them stress.
- Only 5% said they had no stress, and
- 19% said they had little stress.
How to Get a Restful Sleep
I’m sure there’s not one of us that have never known stressful days—but stressful days can lead to sleepless nights. Sleepless nights are the potential fallout of stressful days.
I’m talking about the pace of life today. A generation ago, we had to rest at night because our work was done and we could relax until tomorrow. But things are different now. Today we can work, shop and play 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, via the internet. When do we get our rest?
Maybe we are so restless that it’s impossible for the brain to switch off, and we toss and turn losing valuable hours of sleep. The reality is that at the end of each day, there is unfinished business—If I just had a little more time, I could get done all I wanted to get done. Which of course is only a rationalisation on my part, because as soon as I finished what I thought was the last thing, there will be three more things to be done, and I’ll sleep terribly worrying about them. Maybe it’s a task that didn’t get done; maybe it’s a phone call that didn’t get made; maybe it’s time with someone that didn’t get spent; maybe it’s a word of thanks or forgiveness that didn’t get spoken. Each day we live will be imperfect.
Only as we trust in Jesus our Saviour will we find true peace and contentment. And hopefully a restful night’s sleep. I’m sure that knowing we are loved by God and accepted by him—the God of the universe—may allow us to stop, rest and get some more sleep. Jesus said, “Come to me if you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. Was he talking of sleep? Probably not—but if you know the peace of Jesus, you can rest at night knowing he will keep watch over you.
Psalm 4:8, written by David, has a beautiful verse: “I can lie down and sleep soundly because, you, Lord, will keep me safe”. In Psalm 3 he writes during a stressful time, “I sleep and wake up refreshed because you, Lord, protect me” (verse 5).