Sleep and I had always been close friends.
In college, when a fire alarm emptied my dormitory during the wee hours, my roommate dragged me unresponsively out of bed and hauled me downstairs. We waited outside until firefighters granted an all clear. At breakfast, when the dining hall buzzed with excited indignation about the false alarm, I thought my friends were kidding. I remembered nothing.
As a mom, sleep and I remained best buds even though my mommy genes awakened me to take care of my children's colic, chicken pox, and curfews. Once they slept, I fell over like a tree.
When my physician husband returned after delivering a late-night baby, my half-conscious mind affirmed the guy climbing into bed with me was tall, thin, and bearded. As long as no short, stocky, clean-shaven men showed up, I could go back to sleep.
After such a long friendship, how could sleep turn fickle? When did she kick me out of her Snuggly Snooze Club? Surely sleep would get over her snit after a few days. But my insomnia stretched into weeks.
Lack of Sleep Is a Big Problem
According to the National Institutes of Health, one of three adults suffers at least occasional insomnia. The majority are women. Medical conditions take some blame—asthma, heartburn, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome—to name a few. Death, divorce, economic struggles, parenting dilemmas, and other life upheavals wreck our sleeping patterns too.
My symptoms began when my elderly parents suffered life-threatening illnesses and my brother was diagnosed with cancer. They all lived more than 2,000 miles away. I flew to the West Coast to offer limited help, but my inadequacy in the face of their suffering overloaded my circuits. In the wee hours, I lay staring at the ceiling, blank and useless as a crashed computer.
I tried to bore myself to sleep by mentally reciting multiplication tables, but I stressed out with the 13s. Well-meaning friends recommended I count sheep. At this point, even imaginary baas kept me awake. And when the sheep wandered off into my dreams, I worried about their safety and well-being.
As a good, and efficient, Christian, I decided not to waste those wakeful hours. I quoted Scripture, but my foggy mind forgot key words, making me more uptight than ever. Finally, I decided to follow Jesus' example, rising early, reading chapters of Scriptures and praying through my entire list, confident I would benefit from this nocturnal spiritual work-out. After all, didn't the Bible promise that when we seek his wisdom, our sleep will be sweet (Proverbs 3:24, Psalm 127:2).