How to get a good night sleep – insomnia

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Troubles

My personal experienceHow to get a good night sleep

As a child, I used to have a terrible time going to sleep. Sometimes, I would be awake almost the entire night. I had a real aversion to snakes and I would lie there imagining myself falling into a pit of snakes! (Please don’t try to psychoanalyze me in that regard <grin>.)

Even later in life, I continued to have problems getting to sleep at night. I don’t recall the exact date that I started to overcome my insomnia but, over time, it has been a total change!

Now, my wife gets a little frustrated that I can go to sleep “as soon as my head hits the pillow.” (I sometimes snore and that keeps her awake.) Many people ask me HOW I do it. I hope to give you some of my answers in this article. First, we need to understand insomnia.

What causes Insomnia

The WebMD website states that the major causes of insomnia are depression, anxiety, and stress (especially if it is long term or chronic). When you recognize that stress is causing difficulty sleeping, the National Institute of Health website lists these (and other) techniques to cope:

  • Set priorities-decide what must get donAs a child, I used to have a terrible time going to sleep. Sometimes, I would be awake almost the entire night. I had a real aversion to snakes and I would lie there imagining myself falling into a pit of snakes! (Please don’t try to psychoanalyze me in that regard <grin>.)

    e and what can wait, and learn to say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload.

  • Note what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
  • Avoid dwelling on problems.

That is some pretty good advice. The problem that I had (and it is probably the same with many other insomnia sufferers) was that my mind would not stop thinking and allow me to go to sleep.

Peter Michaelson speaks of the cycle of not being able to sleep and then worrying about the effect that the lack of sleep causes. He calls it “sleep catastrophizing” (dwelling in a fixated manner on worst-case scenarios).

The insomniac becomes agonizingly focused on the consequences of not sleeping: “I’ll be exhausted tomorrow”; “I won’t get my work done and I’ll get in trouble with my boss”; “I’ll be overwhelmed by a backlog of work.”

How to get a good night sleep

There are many causes of insomnia (including physical or medical issues). But for many, the simple answer is to just stop worrying. But knowing that we should not dwell on problems is a lot easier than actually turning off the worry in our minds. Consequently, stress builds and, over time, the accumulation of stress and frustration makes chronic insomnia routine.

The Sleeping Resources website offers “26 Home Remedies for Insomnia.” Some are reasonable while others border on ridiculous. All such remedies seem to be designed to help one stop worrying about the stress in their lives. Many people would say, “I have tried that stuff and I still cannot sleep.”

So, what can we do?


How to get a good night sleep“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere”

The solution came to me one day when I REALLY read the Scripture at Psalms 127:1,2. (I will quote from the NIV but the other versions agree.)

1 Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.
The problem (in my case) was a lack of trust in God’s care and provision. It was centered in the human desire to fix things ourselves. But Jesus said, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NIV)
The bottom line is, If God does not “build the house” or “watch over the city” then nothing we do will fix it anyway! We need to determine that if there is anything we can do, we will do it. If there is nothing we can do (or, if all we can do is still insufficient), then we will just let God handle it! One person said, they just hand the matter to God and say, “This is addressed to you, Father” and leave it in His hands.
Trusting God is the only lasting way to cope with the stress in our lives. Paul taught us how to stop worrying when he wrote to the Philippians (Phil 4:6,7 NIV):
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Then, we are to THANK GOD for taking our burdens. In doing so, “the peace of God… will guard [prevent worry from attacking] your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Do you (or did you) have insomnia? What did (or did not) work for you? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think.
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About Ray

Ray Waldo is a retired pastor with a passion for sharing knowledge, understanding and (if possible), wisdom with everyone he meets. Prior to his retirement, Ray served as a local pastor and teacher to five different churches in two states. He also served as a short-term missionary, teacher, and crusade speaker to groups in Mexico, Kenya, Uganda & the Democratic Republic of Congo (while Congo was still in conflict). Ray is also a widely recognized teacher, writer and public speaker. He was the top-billed speaker to groups of over 10,000 people when he visited Africa. He is currently writing two books (online) that he expects to be published within the next two years.

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