Why Can’t I Sleep?

My energy was low the other day due to not sleeping well. Why do our problems and concerns seem to magnify at night?

I woke up at 2:00 a.m. and began thinking about an issue involving our 11-year-old son Noah. It was nothing major, just some ongoing growing pains with our tweener. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to worry, feeding the issue and before long, it grew to Noah dropping out of school and making license tags behind bars with “mom” tattoo on his arm under a skull with crossbones.

I finally fell asleep and when I awoke in the morning, it all seemed frivolous but it had left me robbed of much needed sleep and an unproductive day.

Pete Wilson’s new book Empty Promises, shares how the ancient Hebrew mindset saw the beginning of the day starting at sunset. Even in the Creation Story in Genesis 1 illustrates this, “Evening came and then morning – that was the first day.”

He points out that our culture sees the beginning of the day at sunrise, the time that we begin doing. However, based on the Creation story, it appears God sees the beginning of the day when we’re resting and He’s on watch.

I don’t think anyone would disagree that we’re in the middle of a sleep-deprived epidemic. We pop pills to go to sleep and chug expensive drinks to stay awake the following day.

I’m not a good sleeper and after my sleepless nights, I’m a walking zombie, failing to emotionally connect with people or God.

“Uh mom, you haven’t blinked in 5 minutes.”

“Oh, sorry! I must have dozed off with my eyes opened.”

There are many theories to our struggle to sleep – artificial light, diet, lack of exercise/movement, too much screen time, hormones, etc. – and I’m guessing most of these theories are true. But I fall asleep okay; it’s the middle of the night and my worry-athons that steal my slumber.

I began to wonder if Pete has a point – am I invading God’s watch? If He is my refuge, my place of safety, why can’t I rest? Perhaps I’m preparing for the day a little too late by waiting until sunrise to put on my spiritual armor.

When I was a missionary in Russia, I went through a period where I had reoccurring nightmares. An older member of my team believed it to be spiritual in nature.

She advised me to pray on God’s armor (Ephesians 6:10), not just in the morning but also at night (the beginning of the Hebrew day). She shared, “Satan will have a hay day with your mind when you sleep unless you cover it with prayer.”

I was reminded of this after reading Empty Promises. Last night, before I went to sleep, I prayed on God’s armor. At 2:00 I woke up again, but instead of worrying, I passed my concerns back to God and thanked Him for keeping watch over us.

You know what, I slept the rest of the night. Thank God He’s got my back.

Do you struggle with sleep?

How do you handle anxious thoughts at night?


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