I love sleep. If sleep were an Olympic sport, I’d surely medal! I’d even consider myself a professional napper (that is, BC – Before Children). There’s nothing better than collapsing into a cozy bed, pre-warmed by my DH, snuggling into a soft pillow, and drifting into a heavy deep sleep.
There’s nothing worse than being assaulted by worry and anxiety as I’m trying to settle in for the night. Worry has often been the thief of sound sleep in Brandy-land.
Some nights dark shadows chase me and other nights my Baby Girl is falling down the stairs. And still some nights I endure a general feeling of anxiousness while I sleep. I can tell it’s been an especially stressful night when I wake and my face is sore from clenching.
So I’ve been trying some tactics to fight worry…even while I sleep!
1. Guard yourself before bed
It only takes a little tragic story or scary plotline to get my worry wheels rolling before bedtime. I’ve learned to not watch television right before bed.
It’s hard to find shows where there’s minimal squabbles. Most have heavy conflict like murder, kidnapping, molestation, robbery, bankruptcy, wrongful death, cancer…you know, the typical things you don’t want to think about right before you go to bed.
And this type of conflict isn’t reserved for shows like Game of Thrones. Sometimes the backstory of contestants on The Voice can send me down the wrong path….or the bad guy in Arrow puts some darkness in my mind. Therefore, I try to give myself some defrag time after a show, before I go to bed.
I also don’t watch the news. Ever. It’s a sure-fire way to plant seeds of worry that spring up over night. It seems rare that something good happens in the world (according to the news).
The last place I’m cautious of is Facebook. I usually check into my page as I’m walking to bed. Some nights I see a story like, “You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Her Family”.
I foolishly click on it and read a story about a 30 something mom in middle town America who lost her 4 kids and husband in a house fire. Guess what I’m thinking about as I close my eyes…and what I’m dreaming about the rest of the night? Not good!
So, I still check my Facebook. Gotta stay connected, right? 🙂 But I resist the urge to click on stories that smell of tragedy. They can wait until the morning. Or never. Unless a friend is in need. Then at least I’m awake to battle my worry.
If you’re feeling especially disciplined, don’t look at any screens for at least 2 hours before you go to bed. Screen time without wind down time for your brain has been connected with sleep troubles. Check out this article for more details. And let me know if you try it out. It sounds nearly impossible!
2. Take 10 Deep Breaths
Deep breathing helps release stress and relaxes muscles. It lowers your blood pressure and cues your body to relax. It’s time for restful sleep! For more info and tips on how to practice deep breathing, read my post about it here.
3. Remind yourself of God’s Promises
God doles out some mighty promises in His Word. There’s power and comfort in recalling some of them as you prepare for bed. Some that especially bring me comfort are:
- Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
- 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
- Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- John 10:27 – 28 reminds us that, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”
4. Put God’s Promises to Prayer
Now that you’ve got some verses in mind, build a prayer around one. Invite God into your dreams. He’s there already, but it solidifies in your mind that God is God, even of our sleep. A prayer could sound something like this:
Father of comfort and peace, pour your spirit of strength and courage on me as I sleep tonight. Fill my thoughts and dreams with your promised presence. Give me power to practice self-discipline with my dreams to avoid darkness and negativity. Wake me refreshed in the morning with the truth of your abiding love and joy for a new day!
Or maybe like this:
God, I’m scared and worried tonight. I can tell this might be a battle of a night! Pour your strength all over me. Put your blanket of love on my mind. Remind me that nothing, not fear, not worry, not anxiety or pain, NOTHING can keep your love from me. Help me put some armor on tonight, God, to fight against the fear. And if I wake up scared, send your Spirit to help me remember your words of truth.
5. Don’t drink too much before bed
Maybe this is just me (and perhaps TMI), but I have anxious dreams when I have to go to the bathroom. I literally dream of trying to find a bathroom that doesn’t have poop everywhere…or one that doesn’t have a stall door missing…or one that isn’t in the middle of a room.
I know this is my mind’s way of saying, “Don’t go to the bathroom! You’re dreaming!” I appreciate my mind’s clever, disgusting tactics. But when I wake from those dreams, I feel really anxious (and I really have to go!). So, I can avoid a little anxiety by not drinking too much, because some nights that anxious feeling carries over into other dreams.
These 5 bedtime routines are helping me sleep with less worry. Now if I could only get my 7 month old to sleep through the night, I might actually get a full night’s rest again!
What helps you unwind before bed?