Sleepless Anxiety

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler

An illustration of a girl on a bed, imagining sheep jumping over a fence

My daughter had a habit of falling out of bed when she was a toddler. Fortunately she slept in a bed that was fairly low to the ground, and when she fell, it was onto soft carpet. Still, no sense taking a fall in the middle of the night if you don’t have to. The problem was solved when I found a railing that fit snugly under the mattress, keeping her sound asleep and safely in bed until her “holy rolling” days were over.

Though I’m not sure why, I am also more prone to rolling off the edge at night—not onto the floor, but into thoughts full of doubt and anxiety. Somehow darkness magnifies the troublesome issues that crop up in the daytime. If you’re like me, you may find yourself trying to solve your most nettlesome problems in the middle of the night. I can assure you it’s a strategy that rarely works.

So how can you counter this problem? One thing you can do is simply to remind yourself that night is always a terrible time to solve anything. To reinforce the thought, try conjuring an image of a hamster running endlessly on a wheel. Then promise yourself you’ll deal with the issue that’s bothering you, but not until morning. Write it down if you have to. After that, roll over and go back to sleep.

If sleep still eludes you, try doing what Paul urged the Philippians to do—pray about everything, and thank God for all he has done. Don’t pray anxiously and endlessly; pray simply and with as much faith as you can muster. Then thank God for all that is good in your life, making sure your prayer of thanksgiving is at least as long as your prayer of petition. After you’ve done that, imagine the Father standing at the edge of your bed, placing a guardrail of peace around it to keep you safe.

Originally published July 21, 2016.