Sleep problems: Why can't we doze off when we're exhausted?

Sleep problems are a common complaint of singles.

When we get home from work, we don't have a spouse whom we can talk things over with. We may speak on the phone with our parents, siblings or friends, but chances are those conversations add to our unease, rather than relieve it.

I have a tendency to stay up too late. Maybe you do too.

It seems as if the day is given over to work or other concerns, and I need a certain amount of time for myself. Most of us are guilty of trying to cram too much into our waking hours.

What many of us overlook is that sleep problems can be the cause of other health troubles instead of the result. In our 24/7 world, we've gotten the odd notion that sleep is a waste of time, when in fact it's absolutely vital to good health.

Sleep problems: The racing mind


Why is it that as soon as the lights go out, your mind starts racing like an Indy 500 car on steroids? The quiet and darkness make us focus on our inner world instead of what's going on around us.

Most of us find it hard to stop replaying situations that happened at work, especially if they were unpleasant. How many times have you told yourself, "I should have said 'this'," or "I should have done 'that.'" Rehashing the day's events in bed is a guaranteed way to have sleep problems.

The unfortunate effects of not getting enough quality sleep are that we run out of energy during the day, our resistance to illness drops and we get more colds and flu, and we become short-tempered and irritable. To put it mildly, we're not a joy to be around.

Change is the dreaded solution

Sleep problems can have many causes, including physical ailments, depression, or reactions to medication. That's why you should always go to your doctor and tell her about them.

One of the most common complaints doctors hear is lack of energy or sleep problems. Sometimes medication is appropriate, but that's rarely a long-term solution. What's needed is change, and that may involve facing some spiritual issues in your life.


We dread change. It takes us outside our comfort zone, even if our "comfort" has become miserable. Sometimes we actually prefer our misery, because it's familiar and predictable. Anything different can be scary, if we don't approach it with a positive attitude.

Conquering sleep problems requires a major shift in perspective. For Christians, it means "putting our money where our mouth is", and that means trusting God.

Giving up control and putting our life in God's hands is one of the most difficult things we can do, but a radical approach is needed when we're looking for radical relief.

Are you a worry junkie?

Some of us are worry junkies. We're addicted to fretting, catastrophizing, and expecting every situation to end up bad.

Worry has become such a theme in our lives that we can't see how we could ever give it up. We have the messed-up notion that worry constitutes "doing something" toward solving our problems, when in fact all it does is make them appear bigger.

When the lights go out, our brain turns on. It imagines all manners of calamities, then we wonder why we're having sleep problems! What?

The kind of change needed to end this cycle once and for all is like major surgery, not hangnail removal.

Taking God at his word


Will all our sleep problems be cured if we stop worrying? Maybe not. But powerful faith in God will bring about a peace of mind that trusts God for everything, including a good night's sleep.

Many Christians say they trust God, then want to hang on to a few pet worries to work on themselves. That's half-hearted trust at best.

There are stress relief techniques you can use to relax you and help you fall asleep. You can try herbal teas, like camomille, that act in a non-narcotic way to relax you.

But the real culprit is your thoughts. Shutting them down at bedtime is a task the Holy Spirit will gladly take on--if you let him. This kind of trust is not for sissies. It's a high wire act, but you do have a net. God's love will catch you before a hair of your head can be harmed.

In my own life, over a period of years, I've found that this kind of "extreme faith" in God has taken a massive weight off my shoulders. It's saved me from the exhausting job of worrying about every tiny possibility.

The older I get, the more I see that all of my worrying was to no avail. It didn't work to solve any problems, and when something isn't working, why keep doing it?

At bedtime tonight...


Instead of your usual anxiety routine tonight, try an experiment. Hand all your worries over to God. Trust him to take care of them.

Then, knowing he's up to any challenge you can throw at him, turn your mind to your favorite things--relaxing places you've visited, supportive family members, accomplishments you were proud of, and the best of all--specific prayers of yours that God answered in spectacular ways.

Keep your mind from running down rabbit holes of distress. Stop it, and gently but firmly keep directing it back to your happy images. After all, God's handling that other stuff. Sweet thoughts lead to sweet dreams.

Your sleep problems may be stubborn. This may not work on the first night. It may not work perfectly on the second or third night.

The more of your troubles you give to God,
the calmer your mind will become.

God is the Great Repairman, the Heavenly Mechanic who can fix things with the touch of the Master.

Get to bed early enough. Read some comforting Bible verses. Pray with confidence. Be determined. You can change. You can do this.

Your life doesn't have to be the way it's always been. God can change it. Let him, starting tonight.

Return to top of sleep problems page.