Stay awake – on purpose – tonight. You might get to see the aurora, the northern lights caused by the largest solar storm to hit our planet’s magnetic field in about 8 years. And, there might be other benefits as well… Read on…
It’s hard to believe now, but not long ago insomnia was my “State of the Union” – and it wasn’t pretty!
But sometimes the answers to our challenges are almost too simple to believe. That was the case with my case of insomnia. At the end of my rope, I went to a” sleep shrink” – a sleep psychologist. Yes, there are such specialists. It was one of the best decisions of my life! Solution: he put me on a sleep diet. That’s right. He restricted my sleep to get me to sleep, and doing so gave me some very simple but important guidelines to follow. I followed. Here they are… I’ll amplify them in later posts.
Never do anything during wakeful hours at night but read quietly in a chair.
Restrict your hours in bed.
Keep regular and routine sleep times and wake times.
Make practical changes in your lifestyle.
Here’s how these principles played out for me – and changed my life!
In my exhaustion I had been indulging in frequent siestas. Having only averaged 4 hours of sleep a night, I was afraid that if I didn’t nap, I might fall asleep at the wheel while driving my kids to school. Occasionally, I came dangerously close to doing just that! Now I was not allowed to nap. Ever. But the promised pay off was well worth the delayed gratification.
Then he gave me some very particular instructions of what to do and what not to do when awakened in the middle of the night:
1. Do not lie there more than fifteen minutes.
2. If after that time you still can’t sleep, get up quietly, turn on one light, get comfortable in a chair and read a peace-evoking book (Anne of Green Gables will do).
3. Read until you get sleepy again.
4. Do not surf the web, do laundry, check email or Facebook, unload thedishwasher… (you get the picture).
5. Quietly shuffle back to bed.
6. Repeat as necessary.
I was to put myself on a strict sleep diet, called “Sleep Restriction.” Sounds cruel, but it works. It meant that I would limit the hours I allowed myself to lie in bed. After a while, I would get so sleepy that my chances of sleep would increase. My doctor started me out on a limit of six and one half hours per night. For years I had followed my teachers’ counsel that everyone needs eight hours a night. My sleep doctor assured me that everyone’s sleep needs varies, and perhaps I was one of those blessed people that only need six hours a night. We would find out.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I had read all of these suggestions online (most likely during my fitful, wakeful hours in the night) and dismissed them, assuming that my solution was health-related or hormonal-related or medical-related. I wanted a fix that I didn’t have to work for.
I was the answer to my own prayers, but I didn’t want to believe that.
Is it possible that your solution is right under your nose, so obvious that you’re missing it? Whether insomnia or some other life challenge, God has given us wisdom, knowledge and supernatural power to conquer them. As Paul writes in his letter to the Roman church, “… in all these things (challenges) we are more than conquerors through him (Jesus) who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
Father, open our eyes to the solutions you have for us that are within our reach. Help us to not wait for other people to fix what is broken; help us to roll up our sleeves and get to work ourselves. In Jesus…