A friend recently asked about battling postpartum insomnia, and I shared my thoughts with her and then decided to share them here with you, too, in case you’re facing similar concerns.
I’m not saying this lightly, but have you prayed about it?
I have found, for me, that those times when I am dealing with insomnia (and yes it often happens, ironically, postpartum, at the time I need it most), that it is not only physical but spiritual.
Often we leap straight to the physical– what is happening in my physical body/chemicals/hormones, etc.? But I have found that I can *do* all the right things– soak in hot magnesium (epsom salt) baths right before bed, have regular times of intimacy, so there is plenty of physical release & a lack of tension, avoid electronics immediately before bed, not do coffee after noon, have the temperature “right,” etc., and still experience insomnia.
There is sometimes a physical cause, and so I’ve definitely had to make sure I’m doing all of the above with regularity & intentionality. But sometimes I’m doing all the physical things, and still experience lack of sleep & an increase in anxiety & fear at nighttime.
What I’ve come to believe is that this is an area where our enemy sometimes attacks us. When we lived overseas, we noticed it especially among the WOMEN. Almost every female living abroad that I knew struggled actively, or had previously struggled, with insomnia.
But the Psalms say “God gives to His beloved rest.”
So. I don’t understand how the spiritual world works. But I do believe there are unseen things happening that we sometimes overlook. And I know that prayer wages war in unseen places in a way that magnesium baths doesn’t.
As wives/mothers, we are the pivotal person in the home. If I get enough rest, things go smoothly, and it affects (now) 7 other people’s days positively. If I don’t, and everything goes to pot, meals go unmade, I’m crabby all day, on edge, grumpy, not mentally “on,” it affects 7 other people’s day for the negative.
I believe this is part of why Scripture calls us “the weaker vessel.” We are in this stage of less sleep, less physical & mental wherewithal, and simultaneously have all these people depending on us.
So anytime I notice insomnia as a pattern for me (it comes and goes), I begin praying about it. I ask Doug to pray for me before we lay down, that I would be able to fall asleep easily & stay asleep all night. We ask that I would only have good dreams and not be paralyzed by creepy/fearful ones, or even heart-pounding exciting ones. We ask that I would wake up feeling well-rested and ready for a new day.
These prayers sound simple and perhaps trite, but we pray them in faith, asking God to do it, believing that He will. And He has done it again and again. Our Father loves His children and gives good gifts. He cares for us, and made us to sleep well. So for me, when I see this as a pattern (not a one-off weird night, but an ongoing thing), I begin actively praying that God would help me to get the sleep I so desperately need, and that He would silence my mind.
I am finding (this increased over the last few months as I experienced a lot of terrifying, wake-me-up-with-heart-pounding sort of dreams with this pregnancy) that I also have to be more careful with media intake & what I read on the internet.
Anything that is remotely disturbing or frustrating, I can’t handle on my “plate” right now.
LIFE AS A BUFFET PLATE
I have started thinking of life as a buffet plate. My heavenly Father has put together a plate for me that He knows has the right portions on it. My plate has Doug, Ethan, Baxter, Maranatha, Silas, Moses, & Theo, and now this new baby on it. Also on the plate are my house, and the immediate circle of friends that He’s put in my life.
But then sometimes I’m like the kid who goes up to the buffet line and keeps adding more and more things to my “plate.” Whereas He puts what I need on there, and He knows the proper amount, my eyes can be too big for my appetite and I read a little snippet here, or an article there, decide to take on a new project, or feast my eyes on what God has put on someone else’s plate and add it to mine.
Pretty soon, my plate is overflowing and I’m looking at my plate and feeling overwhelmed and exhausted and frustrated because THERE’S NO WAY I CAN EAT ALL THIS, GOD.
And He’s sitting there, saying, “I never expected you to. I gave you the portion you could handle, and you piled all that macaroni & cheese and jello and mashed potatoes on top of the things I’d already chosen for you.”
WHAT HAS GOD PUT ON MY PLATE?
So then I have to pull back, take a good look at my plate, and ask myself, “what has God really given ME?”
Has He given me the problems of the Middle East to solve and gut-grind over?
Has He given me the problems of every friend I ever had, who posts them to Facebook, so that I have to “carry” those and churn over them all day and all night?
Has He given me the weight of every plane crash, tsunami, and human tragedy on the globe?
No. I can pray, and in some situations perhaps give money if God leads our family to do so, but one hundred years ago, I wouldn’t even know about most of these things. Media and the internet are what try to put those things on my plate. I don’t have to consume them or let them consume me.
Has He given me the problems of every person I know in my immediate circle of friends?
Only the parts that I can do something about. Can I pray? Can I bring a meal? Do I have a word of encouragement for that person? Great. I can do that. But after doing those things, that’s what I can do. That’s the part on my “plate.” Solving everyone else’s problems is not part of the portion that God has assigned to me.
Has He tasked me with sorting out every theological and convictional question I run across that interests my mind?
No. With my husband, I can talk through those things that directly affect us, but I don’t have to figure out everything, TODAY.
So for me, especially this summer, learning what is on my “plate” and doing that faithfully and not focusing on the things that are NOT, has been beneficial (and necessary). I have to be vigilant to guard my intake, and not take on stress and heartaches that God didn’t give to ME.
I don’t know if any of that will help you but that’s what has been helping me lately as I battle insomnia and fears and feeling plagued with the problems of the world.
I’ve had to recognize that I am a weaker vessel, and guard myself with the same care I guard my children in a crowded parking lot. I am more vulnerable than I realize, and you are too, and stewarding *US* well is an important job.
Love you. And I’m praying that you did, eventually, fall asleep, and come to sleep well.
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