Categories
Recommendations Reflections

5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep

Do you struggle to sleep at night? Maybe you have difficulty falling asleep or even full-blown insomnia. My issue is that I often wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to fall back to sleep. There could be a million reasons why relaxing rest eludes us and an equal number of suggestions for resolution. Today, I want to share 5 habits I have been working to hone, which seem to be making a difference for me.

I am going to add the caveat right here that I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus died for my sins and that when I accepted Him as my Savior, He gave me His Holy Spirit to dwell inside me. Read more on that here. I genuinely do not believe satisfying sleep is a reasonable expectation outside of the peace that comes from knowing God.

But even with the assurance that He has the chaos under control and cradles me in the palm of His hand, I sometimes find myself awake when I want to be asleep. As I’ve prayed for the wisdom to address it, I’ve adopted five habits which have been highly effective for me. I’m sharing them in hopes they might resonate with you as well.

5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep

Tune out

Life is hectic! My brain doesn’t have time to take a break. Or so it likes to think. (Pun intended.) After all, if I stopped controlling things, it would all come crashing down, right? Not even close to right! In fact, if I don’t stop trying to control things, and let my mind rest, I’m much more likely to make mistakes and missteps that will cause everything to come crashing down.

So, I need to tune out. Shut down. Let go. I do this nightly by watching a Hallmark movie or something equivalent. There is science to show that the brain slows significantly when we watch TV, and I am pretty sure a Hallmark movie requires the least mindfulness of anything out there. It is completely predictable with idyllic settings and… I’m getting sleepy just talking about it.

Some people tell me to pray before bed – to give it all to Jesus and walk away. I would never tell anyone not to pray. I know this is a tried-and-true method for many. It does not work for me because praying engages my mind and my emotions. I have to say my ‘bedtime prayers’ before I tune out. My goal is to not be thinking about anything important when my head hits the pillow.

Exercise

I toyed with the order in which I wanted to present these 5 habits to you. I obviously did not choose to put them in chronological order. But stay with me as I work a bit backwards here.

My biggest hurdle is getting my mind to rest. When I have tuned out and my head has hit the pillow, it needs to have a few things neatly wrapped and tucked away. One of those things is the knowledge that my body is tired.

I sit quite a bit at work and writing does not get me moving either. I need to be intentional about exercise. This is a habit I must commit to accomplish early in the day. I’ve mentioned that I’m a distance walker and that I’ve curiously started running again.

If I am physically tired, my mind will be at ease about my body’s cooperation to sleep. It is always worth it – not just for sleep but for overall health as well.

Food

This one has taken some experimentation. I have discovered that carbohydrates at night do not agree with me. They make me feel bloated and uncomfortable and are not conducive to a good night’s sleep. I have basically cut out all carbs, even healthy ones, after 4pm. I have also lightened up on my protein in the evening. Don’t worry – I eat plenty of both, earlier in the day.

Kale salad: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Kale salad, a frequent dinner menu item.

Dinner for me is comprised of mostly vegetables and healthy fats. I eat early so I can go to bed early because I get up early. Eating foods which agree with my digestive system, and timing it so those processes have time to work before I lay down, has been game-changing for me.

This may seem obvious, but I stopped consuming caffeine late in the day. I used to feel immune to the caffeine because I could drink a cup and still fall asleep. But I do think it hampered my ability to fall back to sleep if I awoke in the middle of the night. And any beverage consumed late increases the chances of needing to get up in the middle of the night. I’m better off without it.

Conscience

Ah this! When I have tuned out, worked out, and cut out, but still wake up at 2am unable to go back to sleep, it can be due to a guilty conscience. Sometimes it is legit and other times it is not. I have tried to just ignore it and go back to sleep but it doesn’t work. My only way around the obstacle of my conscience is to engage.

Fox with ears alert: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Photo by Petr Ganaj on Pexels.com
When God speaks, even in the middle of the night, I want to listen.

It seems counterintuitive to purposely start my mind thinking, but remember, the one most important ingredient for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep. There is no peace in a guilty conscience. If the conviction I feel is legitimate, I need to confess it to God and repent. I need to receive His forgiveness and resolve to make it right with anyone to whom I may owe restitution. Then, my peace returns. When I feel that harmony with God, I can sleep again.

If the shame I feel is not legit, I need to preach truth to myself and let it go. A good dose of truth brings a rush of peace.

“Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.”

2 John 2:3

Pray

I know some of you are wondering why a Christian would leave prayer for the last bullet point. Is prayer a last resort for me? NOT AT ALL! I rely on constant communication with God to guide my steps and steer my decisions.

Prayer gets its own section because there are still times, when I’ve done everything I’ve learned to do for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep, but I still wake up.

Alarm clock: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Sometimes I’m supposed to be awake at 2am.

In these instances, I know God has purposed that I should be awake to pray. I have a list of people who get prayed for every time I am awake in the middle of the night. Maybe one of them is in trouble and I have been awakened specifically because I will pray for them. Prayer releases the power of Heaven and if sacrificing a few minutes of sleep will send that assistance to a loved one who needs it, I’m in!

If I go through my usual list of people and I’m still awake, I start praying for anyone else whose name or face pops into my head. Eventually, I figure I’ve covered everyone for whom I was tasked to pray, because I fall back to sleep.

Even if I’m wrong – if nobody needed my prayers at 2am, my efforts have covered them with God’s presence and that can never be a bad thing. But I honestly believe it is a ministry. The Holy Spirit knows I am available and willing to serve in this capacity in the middle of the night.

Ironically, my habit of intentionally clearing my mind so I can fall asleep and stay asleep makes me a ripe prayer warrior to call upon in the wee hours. And there is a reward. The sleep that comes after being awoken for this purpose and fulfilling it, is the most satisfying of all sleeps!

Kitten asleep: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Sleep induced by prayer for others is oh-so sweet!

Well, there they are. Those are the 5 habits to hone for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep. At least, they are the tricks that have been the most beneficial for me lately. There are others, and if you’d like me to post about them, let me know.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Do you have trouble sleeping? Is it a struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep or both? Have you found any helpful hints that you’d be willing to share? Do any of mine ring true for you?

25 replies on “5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep”

Nightmares are, well, a nightmare. I wish they didn’t exist. They rob the kids, and you, of much needed sleep. Having the right tools to regain peace and get back to sleep is so valuable. Your kiddos are so blessed you are taking the time to teach them. I still use the tools my dad taught me. One day, all that causes our nightmares will be defeated and gone. Until then, keep looking up! Have a great day.

Liked by 1 person

These are great habits to improve sleep. One thing that helps me is turning a box fan on low in the bedroom. Also, I never watch TV in my BR, nor do I work in bed. My bed is for sleeping only. I definitely have to be intentional about getting a good night’s sleep. Thanks for sharing your helpful habits. Blessings, ML!

Liked by 2 people

That is so helpful, Cindy. White noise is a great sleep aid, especially when the consistent noise drowns out the sporadic ones which might otherwise interrupt your sleep cycle. Thanks for bringing that up! Blessing to you too!

Liked by 1 person

Is the voice that soothing? My husband falls asleep whenever there is a British accent. Haha! I don’t think he’s ever stayed awake thru even half of the Sound of Music, and honestly, not sure he’s tried too hard. Lol.

Liked by 2 people

These are great tips. I face this same issue and lately have been better at staying asleep longer. Reasons: 1) I’m training my bladder to hold my pee longer! In the day, I decide that I can hold it 15 more minutes, then half hour, then hour, etc. 2) I asked a fellow blogger to pray specifically for me and think of her prayer when I wake. 3) I am training myself to not be afraid of sleeping! It was to the point that I’d go to sleep, fearful that I’d wake up. How sad. Now, I tell myself that if I wake up, it is ok, talk to Jesus. It is a win win. ❤💛❤

Liked by 3 people

Haha Love your new topic! Hallmark sure makes it look easy except for that 10 minutes before the ending grand love story. It’s a good idea to set people straight, since tons will be watching Hallmark for Christmas movies. Wonder if a study has been done on disheartened marriages after 2 months of Hallmark watching. Haha I can hear the Hallmark watching woman now “You are nothing like Ryan Lavery, just get out.” Haha (Is he still on there?)

Liked by 1 person

I honestly don’t know any of the actors names. I do know their faces, though. It is the same ones time and again ;). If it is true that working hard for something makes it more special, the relationships on Hallmark channel are dull. The one you have sounds like a labor of love and that makes it so valuable. God bless you for fighting for it!

Liked by 1 person

I do the praying for others when waking in the middle of the night. A few years ago, I added the practice of first asking the Lord, “Is there someone specific I should pray for?” Then I pray for the names and faces the Holy Spirit–our Helper brings to mind.

When I struggle to fall asleep, it helps me to listen to scripture set to music. There are many YouTube channels that have hours of scripture being read with relaxing music or nature sounds such as rain or waterfalls. I look for ones that have no ads. If they have ad breaks I avoid them, those tend to wake me when the ad comes on. My favorite is a CD with healing scriptures being read by a woman whose accent I love and find very peaceful.

About a year ago, a doctor treating my Lyme, highly recommended I move all electrical or wireless devices out of the bedroom or a minimum of five feet away from my body. There is science behind EMFs electromagnetic fields–invisible lines of force that emanate from any electrical or wireless device, weakening the immune system and affecting the brain in some people.

Unfortunately, I did not follow this advice to begin with, as I’ve always had my alarm clock on the nightstand beside my bed as well as my cell phone. I rationalized, I was doing better than most because I don’t have a TV in the bedroom. However, I recently moved my alarm clock across the room (12 ft away) and now leave my cell phone in the bathroom or beside the alarm clock. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that I’ve been getting better sleep and fewer middle-of-the-night disruptions.

Liked by 1 person

Wow, that is really interesting about the EMFs. Would that apply to a bedside lamp as well?

I’ve toyed some with falling asleep to scripture. But I have a concern about creating a habit where the Bible lulls me to sleep. It might be silly, but I don’t want to pave patterns in my brain where it thinks scripture reading is a time to shut down. Have you noticed any tendency to tune out at church or anything since you’ve been using scripture as a sleep aid? It’s probably a ridiculous concern on my part.

Liked by 1 person

You have an interesting concern about the Bible lulling you to sleep and I don’t think there is a blanket answer that would fit everyone. I’ve not noticed or been aware of any “shut down” in myself. I don’t use scripture audios daily. It’s the last tool, when falling asleep is an issue. I approached it from another perspective. Our brains hear and process information even when we are unconscious (asleep) so I was coming at it from the mindset of, let me get as much of the word in me versus the evil one dropping lies in my mind.

Regarding your question about the bedside lamp and EMFs, I don’t know much other than the basic info I shared from my doctor. If you search the internet you can find further information. I think it varies by type of light bulb. Wi-fi things emit more.

I do have a bedside lamp because I generally read for a bit when I go to bed. I try to maintain balance in all of this info just as I would my intake of salt or sugar–moderation is good. It took me awhile to follow through with the doctors recommendation. When I noticed a difference I realized there is an effect even if it may be only psychological. A person may need to just do a bit of research or experimentation to learn if they gain any benefits to moving or eliminating EMF sources.

Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s