The secret to good sleep

Photo by Ihsan Adityawarman on

When we were going through a particularly challenging period, I remember an older pastor asking me “Are you able to sleep through the night.”  Insomnia is of course a significant emotional health warning and many of us will have at different times struggled with it, finding ourselves unable to drift off or alternatively being suddenly wide awake in the small hours and unable to resettle. 

I think my friend was asking a bit more though. He wasn’t just talking about the physical mechanics of night time slumber, rather, behind the question was another one.  “Are you able to rest and relax, can you switch off from what is going on?” And whilst at that time, I wasn’t particularly afflicted with insomnia, the true and deeper answer was that I couldn’t really switch off from what was going on, indeed, I was constantly in a state of heightened alert.

In Psalm 3, David, is on the run from his son Absolom who has staged a cue.  He faces a dangerous foe and there is a real risk to his life, yet he can say:

“! lie down and sleep”[1]

Why can David say this?  It’s because although his enemies are many, he is unafraid.  He has learnt to depend on God.  He trusts the Lord to save and protect him.

We live in a restless age.  We find it hard to settle on things, we struggle with sleep at night and we are simply no good at taking breaks and holidays.  How many managers, leaders and even pastors head off for the weekend or  on holiday with the mobile switched on, just in case?  How many emails are sent late at night?  Why do we struggle to set aside “sabbath rest”?

The brutal answer, I believe, is that we are too dependent upon ourselves. We think that how things will work out is based on us. We think that if we are absent or stop then things will go to pot.  We fear rivals and opponents and believe that they will sneak up on us at an unguarded moment. 

This is why it is crucial to remember that

“Salvation belongs to the Lord.”[2]

[1] Psalm 3:5.

[2] Psalm 3:8.

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