Welcome God into the Day and Into the Night

by Christine Sine
Dream - Jennifer Hamlett Herrick

by Christine Sine

I suffer from insomnia, something which I have just learned may be due to an imbalance of the meds that I am on. So I have my fingers crossed with the hope that my sleep will improve over the next few weeks.

I am not alone in my struggles with sleep. Roughly, 1 in 3 adults worldwide have insomnia symptoms, and about 10% of adults meet the criteria for insomnia disorder.

My struggles with sleep in the past often inspired me to write prayers in the middle of the night, breath prayers, prayers that welcome God  into our day and into our night are my favorites. When I posted some of these prayers a few years ago, I was amazed at the number of people who responded with their own stories of sleeplessness and the frustration it caused them. Sleep deprivation is no fun for any of us. It often leaves us with a fuzzy head, an inability to think straight or do our job properly, irritability  and a feeling of general malaise.

I have written about sleeplessness before but thought it was time to do a little more research on the subject. What I discovered is fascinating. First, do a google search on insomnia and the first thing that pops up is all the supplements that supposedly help with sleep. Then come the meditation exercises to help us relax, the breath prayers to say before we go to bed or when we wake prematurely. Insomnia is big business, and many of us are spending far too much to try and overcome it.

There are many different forms of insomnia. Some people can’t get to sleep, others, like me often fall asleep but then wake up a few hours later and can’t get back to sleep for a couple of hours, others sleep well initially but wake too early and can’t get back to sleep at all.

One of the forms of insomnia and the one that we most easily misunderstand is the biphasic pattern of sleep, wakefulness and then more sleep. Interestingly it might be a normal sleep pattern that many of us are trying to change.

According to this article by Natalie Wolchover

More than one-third of American adults wake up in the middle of the night on a regular basis. Of those who experience “nocturnal awakenings,” nearly half are unable to fall back asleep right away. Doctors frequently diagnose this condition as a sleep disorder called “middle-of-the-night insomnia,” and prescribe medication to treat it.

Mounting evidence suggests, however, that nocturnal awakenings aren’t abnormal at all; they are the natural rhythm that your body gravitates toward. According to historians and psychiatrists alike, it is the compressed, continuous eight-hour sleep routine to which everyone aspires today that is unprecedented in human history. We’ve been sleeping all wrong lately — so if you have “insomnia,” you may actually be doing things right.

Normal isn’t really normal at all. According to Natalie and a growing number of other researchers. Until the invention of the electric light most people slept in four hour blocks, waking in the middle of the night for an hour or two in which they prayed, conversed together, made love or went for walks. Electric light meant we could stay up later. Instead of going to bed for 12-14 hours we suddenly only spent 8 hours or less in bed and expect to get all our sleep done in one go. The introduction of phones and other bright screens has further disrupted our sleep patterns and made it difficult for many of us to sleep when we feel we should.

Evidently sleeping in the biphasic pattern helps us process our dreams which are part of the problem solving mechanism of our brains. It is no wonder that many people find that their night time wakefulness often ignites creative juices and helps them solve life’s challenges. As I said, it can be a great time for me to write prayers. It also explains why the monastic rhythms began with prayer at 2 or 3 am. This was not some rigourous, aesthetic discipline but rather flowed out of the natural rhythm of sleep and wakefulness. And think about how often in the Bible God awakens prophets and leaders with visions and dreams.

I wonder however, what we miss out on because we try to control our sleep patterns. Taking pills may increase the length of time we sleep but not necessarily improve the quality of our sleep. trying to force ourselves to sleep just increases our frustration and anxiety and makes it even harder to relax and return to sleep.

So the next time you have a sleepless night don’t just lie there kicking and turning restlessly. Get up, walk around, maybe even write down those ideas or creative thoughts that are revolving in your mind. Give yourself permission to be creative, write poetry, do some artwork, pray. After an hour of this kind of activity it is often much easier to go back to sleep. And rethink your schedule. Maybe an earlier bedtime with allow for that needed awake time in your life.

What do you think?


Did you know that alongside Christine Sine’s book The Gift of Wonder, we have many resources available to you? The free downloadable bonus packet or beautiful prayer cards featuring prayers from the book, for example – something to hold and behold! Or perhaps you’d like to journey through the book alongside a retreat – we have that too! You can check it all out in our shop!

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