According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sleep deprivation is a public health epidemic. An estimated 50-70 million U.S. adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder. The National Institutes of Health suggests that school-age children need at least 10 hours of sleep daily, teens need 9-10hours, and adults need 7-8 hours. The problem is that most people aren’t getting enough. According to data from the National Health Interview Survey, nearly 30% of adults reported an average of less than 6 hours of sleep per day in 2005-2007. In 2009, only 31% of high school students reported getting at least 8 hours of sleep on an average school night.
And what are the causes of our sleepless nights? One study indicates that there are numerous societal and personal factors such as round-the-clock access to technology and work schedules, job or school related stress, personal or family issues, and physical or mental illnesses. Many of us, myself included, have experienced sleepless nights, and the more we try to make ourselves go to sleep, the more we feel the pressure of our insomnia.
I’ve experienced the daily fatigue brought on by those restless nights, and thus I’ll try almost anything to nod off to sleep: prayer, reading scripture, listening to soft music. I even count sheep! I recognize that for some, insomnia is a serious, medical issue. If that’s the case for you, I hope you seek professional advice from a health-care expert.
For others, such as myself, however, a sleepless night is directly tied to the pressures and demands of the day. And herein lies my dilemma: Am I really trusting the Lord? Am I relying on my own strength rather than the strength of the Holy Spirit? Am I turning my problems and stressors over to Jesus? If I am, then why do I lie awake at night worrying about them?
I know the Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). I believe the Scripture when it says, “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” (Philippians 4:6-7).
The problem is not in my knowledge but in my application. Trust is not a one-time deal, as though you can say, “I trust you,” and then move on to something else. Trust is a process based in relationship and the acknowledgment that the person in whom you trust is trustworthy. If we truly believe that God is the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of our lives, then we can walk in the confidence of His trustworthiness. In layman’s terms: God’s got this. In God’s terms: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
When we trust that God is who He said He is, that God will do what He said He will do, then we can be who He calls us to be, and we can sleep with the full assurance that He is in control…and we’re not.
If you struggle with sleepless nights, as I do from time to time, I encourage you to memorize the following verses, and then recite them in your mind as part of your bedtime routine: “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me…. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 3:5; 4:8). “For God grants sleep to those He loves” (Psalm 127:2). If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:24).
Tonight, I pray your sleep will be sweet, your mind, body and soul will be refreshed, and you will rest in the trustworthiness of God.