Read Psalm 4:8
8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety. (NRSV)
All the experts tell us that having a good night’s sleep is vital for mental and physical health. The idea is that our minds and bodies need rest, we even need to do some deep dreaming so as to wake up refreshed the following day.
Easier said than done. In fact, trying too hard to get to sleep is a barrier to sleep. Worrying about not being able to go to sleep means getting even less sleep. Taking sleeping pills is not usually recommended either.
It is true that sleep is God’s way of rendering us superfluous for a time. We are not in charge, the world is getting by without us. We are not aware of our surroundings and so cannot act to change them. Sleep is the ultimate inactivity, the ultimate surrender.
The Psalmist doesn’t seem to need elaborate bedtime rituals let alone medication. He is able to rest not just because his body needs such rest but because his heart is content to let God look after things through the night. He knows God will be with him through the night and will be there with him as he wakes to embrace the new day.
It seems the key to deep sleep is deep trust in the assurance of God’s presence. Going to sleep is not just a biological necessity but an act of faith. Getting to sleep may not be so much about counting sheep but being aware of the good shepherd.