Daniel 6:18 – Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brough to him. And he could not sleep.
You finally get into bed looking forward to a good night’s sleep. It had been a busy day, and so you let your mind drift towards sleep.
But then you’re wide awake. “What is going on?” you wonder.
Then your legs feel like they want to move and so you begin to move them hoping to stop the pattern of restlessness. You sit up in bed and start messaging your legs. You lay back down thinking it was just muscle cramps, when they start to move again. No matter how you try to relax and go to sleep, there’s no going to sleep. Sometimes your legs begin to move even during the day.
What is going on?
Restless Leg Syndrome.
Restless leg syndrome also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, according to mayoclinic.org in their article, “Restless Leg Syndrome,” is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, usually because of an uncomfortable sensation. It typically happens in the evenings or nighttime hours when you’re sitting or lying down. Moving eases the unpleasant feeling temporarily.
The sensations can include: crawling, creeping, pulling, throbbing, aching, itching, or electric.
There are a variety of medications for Restless Leg mentioned in the article above. Some home remedies include baths and massages, applying warm or cool packs, establishing good sleep hygiene, exercise, avoiding caffeine, alcohol and tobacco, massaging your legs while soaking in warm water and using a foot wrap.
Restless leg is a difficult sensation to live with. But with the suggestions above, you may find a way to relieve your sensations. Still, you my need to see your doctor to help you catch a break when your legs have a mind of their own.
No matter who you are, even if you were the king mentioned in the Bible verse above, sometimes there just isn’t any sleep. Ask God to ease your mind and the sensations your legs are experiencing. God knows you’re struggling and will guide you in finding a way of relief.
Mark 14:37 – Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?”
There are times, when you suffer from chronic pain, that you catch yourself falling asleep even when it’s time for you to be awake:
Many of these cases can cause hurt and pain if it’s a person or meeting you’re listening to. Find some tips on how to avoid falling asleep when you need to be awake. On webmd.com in their article, “How to Stay Awake Naturally,” discusses ways to help you not fall asleep such as get up and move around to feel awake, take a nap to take the edge off sleepiness and give your eyes a break to avoid fatigue.
Making sure you get a good night’s sleep is also important. I know that when I’ve had a restless sleep it can be difficult to keep my eyes open the next day. Take a look at the Bible verse above, Jesus had gone a little away to pray and when he returned, he found the disciples had fallen asleep. Even they battled trying to stay awake when Jesus was about to be arrested. As you’re praying, you might find yourself falling asleep. It’s times like these when you need to fight sleep to stay awake.
Exodus 33:14 - The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
To the person who suffers with chronic pain or an illness, each day can feel like a marathon.
To the healthy individual is not a difficult task to prepare to leave their homes. However, to the unhealthy person everything they do to get themselves ready to face the day is exhausting.
And then, after getting ready to leave, it may be that they’re just too tired to join the world.
I commend those who make it out the door each day, whether it be to a job or to a doctor’s appointment. Their energy level now, as the day passes, decreases with each step they take. Exausted, they return home and after some lunch they decide to rest for a while.
To the healthy person taking a nap in the middle of the day sounds like an excuse to be lazy, and that it will hurt their ability to sleep at night. But to the one in pain, without a nap in the middle of the day, we can’t make it through the day. It may be that the nap will affect their sleep, but they have to do what they have to do.
So, let’s take a look at why napping during the day can be good for you. Michaelhyatt.com, in their article, “5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day,” discusses the benefits of napping such as a nap restores alertness. The energy dip you feel in the afternoon can be combated with a twenty to thirty minute nap. Also, the secret to becoming more productive is not managing your time; it’s managing your energy.
We can see that with a person suffering from a chronic health condition a nap each day may be necessary to give them the energy they need to make it through their day. But we can also see the benefits of a healthy person taking a nap each day. Take a look at the Bible verse above. God not only supports our taking a nap each day, but it is he who gives us this rest and will go with us throughout our day.
Psalm 3:5 - I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
When a child is a baby or toddler, they take naps throughout the day. They tire easily, and require that extra sleep.
When a child goes off to school, they still may require a nap during preschool and kindergarten. But once a child grows up, and is in school for the day, naptime usually disappears unless they’ve had a very full day.
As a parent, you don’t think much about your child taking a nap. It’s just what they do. They run full speed ahead and then crash and burn. No one would chastise a child for needing some down time, but if you’re an adult, a nap can seem out of the ordinary.
For those of us who suffer from a chronic health condition, especially chronic pain, a nap isn’t out of the ordinary. It’s required. It doesn’t matter if we’ve spent the day at home or have been running around most of the day, because when we enter the afternoon hours, our bodies beckon us to rest. I need that nap to survive the day.
I’ve been made fun of more times than I can count because I take a nap. But if I don’t listen to my body and rest, I can’t make it through the day. Not physically and not emotionally. I come to the point of tears when exhaustion hits, because I’ve listened more to others’ criticisms than to what my body is trying to tell me what I need.
In addition, those of us who struggle to make it through the day can be found preparing for bed earlier than most. This, too, can make other people frustrated with us especially if we’re in the middle of a social function, or simply watching a movie together on the couch. But my body has a rhythm that beats to the drum of my pain, and it requires me to turn off the music and listen to the silence.
Is taking a nap during the day such a bad idea even for people who are healthy? According to mayoclinic.org in their article, “Napping: Do’s and Don’ts for Healthy Adults,” there are benefits from napping such as quicker reaction time and memory. The article also discusses what the drawbacks of napping are, and when you should consider taking a nap.
So you see, taking a nap to survive the day isn’t something to make fun of another person for. They just might need that nap, and even the Lord sustains us when we sleep. He understands why we need a nap and will awaken us with renewed energy. Go ahead and take that nap, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
Guest Blog by The Sleep Help Institute
Most of us live in a culture that glorifies busyness. We stay up late to get things done, then we get up early so we can get to work on time. We try not to think about how little sleep we’re getting, how much coffee we’re drinking, and how tired we feel. After all, thinking about it just makes us feel worse, and we feel like we can’t do anything to change the situation. We are just going to have to learn to function while sleep deprived.
Sleep deprivation, at its most basic, means not getting enough sleep. How much sleep you need will depend on who you are and how much you do in a day, but most people need between 7 and 9 hours every night in order to function well the next day. Miss out on some sleep for just a few days, and you will notice its effects.
Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation
Some symptoms of sleep deprivation are easy to spot. People who are yawning, who are having trouble staying awake in classes or in meetings, or who are always particularly moody or emotionally touchy are, quite possibly, sleep deprived.
However, there are other symptoms that can be associated with sleep deprivation, too. Sleep deprived people can be clumsy, can have trouble making decisions or consistently make poor decisions, and they may always be hungry. They may be accident prone, in their vehicles or otherwise, and they may get sick easily or have trouble getting better when they do fall ill.
All of this happens because the human body needs sleep. We are made to sleep and, when we don’t, it has consequences for how (and how well) the body functions.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
The above mentioned symptoms occur because of the effects of sleep deprivation on the human body. Here are just a few health issues that seem to be caused, at least in part, by a lack of sleep.
Immune System Problems
During sleep, the body produces cytokines and other substances that fight infection. When we don’t sleep enough, we don’t have enough time to produce all of these that we need. Then, when something invades the body, we can’t fight it off as effectively.
Cytokines also help fight inflammation in the body, which has been tied to heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and more. When the body isn’t producing enough of these substances, inflammation rises and the chances of developing these related conditions rise, too.
People who only sleep for a few hours every night don’t process glucose as effectively as those who sleep for at least 8 hours. Researchers don’t know exactly why this happens, but the end result is that those who only sleep a few hours are significantly more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes.
In addition, once they wake up, people who are sleep deprived release more insulin after they eat. This messes with their blood sugar levels, causes them to store more fat and also heightens their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
When your sleep, your brain rests and recovers, processing information and storing memories. When it doesn’t get a chance to do these things, it is required to function while exhausted. Thus, sleep deprivation causes you to be impatient, to have wild mood swings, and to struggle to be creative or solve problems well.
Sleep deprivation also correlates with higher levels of:
Some hormones depend on sleep for their production and release. Testosterone is one of these. You need at least 3 consecutive hours of sleep to make enough. Since both men and women need testosterone to achieve hormonal balance, sleep deprivation can throw this off.
Children and adolescents release more human growth hormone when they sleep well. If they aren’t getting enough rest, it’s possible that their bodies won’t grow and develop as is necessary for good human functioning.
In addition to releasing more insulin and being at risk for Type 2 Diabetes, both of which correlate positively with a higher than desired body weight, sleep deprivation causes people to eat more than they need. The body is trying to get the energy that it didn’t get while asleep. However, it has to store these extra calories somewhere and this often makes losing weight much more difficult for people who are sleep deprived.
On top of these issues, people who are sleep deprived are more likely to make poor food choices. Their brains are tired, their impulse control is down, and so they are more likely to eat junk food than their well-rested friends.
Causes of Sleep DeprivationAt its most basic, sleep deprivation is caused by not getting enough sleep. Sometimes, we simply choose not to get enough sleep or to do other things rather than sleep. However, there are also conditions that can cause sleep deprivation, or at least make sleep more difficult. These include:
Sleep deprivation can also be caused by poor sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene looks at the behavioral and environmental conditions under which you try to sleep. Some situations are better than others. Good sleep hygiene involves:
Treatment of Sleep Deprivation
Improving your sleep hygiene, as outlined above, can help you sleep better. However, if you have a sleep disorder or one of the conditions mentioned above, you may need to find an effective treatment for that, too, before you can sleep well.
If you simply need to make more time for sleep, treatment involves moving the pieces of your schedule around until there’s adequate time for sleep. You may have to eliminate some things or learn to use your time differently.
There are medications that can help you sleep, but these tend to have significant side effects. If nothing else works, it’s definitely worth talking to your doctor about the pros and cons of these medications for your particular situation. If medicine is the only way to sleep better, you may need to consider taking it for a while.
Sleep deprivation is a major problem, but it is very treatable. We need to become a culture that values rest as much as we value work and efficiency. As more and more of us come to prioritize sleep in our own lives, this will slowly change. Be part of the revolution! Get more sleep today!
Genesis 31:40 - This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes.
Darkness surrounds me, as daylight slips over the mountains. I begin my night time routine and soon find it time to go to sleep. It’s been a long day, so I welcome rest.
But then, I hear my neighbor’s dog start to bark. The noise becomes louder and louder as I wish my neighbor would bring in his dog so it would stop barking.
Then I hear the sound of a siren as a fire truck speeds past my apartment to answer a call for help. A few moments later another siren follows the first as an ambulance rushes in the same direction. But can I really be angry about the noise when someone may be in desperate need of help? No. So I say a quick prayer and lay down once more.
Just when I’m about to fall asleep another sound floats my way – someone with their car radio blasting as they wait for the light in front of my complex. Then the radio is replaced by the sound of a motorcycle.
And on it goes, night after night. But I live near a busy intersection. What do I expect, right? But all is not lost. Of course I could choose to move to a different location not near an intersection, but there could still be a dog barking. There are other options available though.
One solution is to keep a fan running at night. It produces what is called “white noise” and masks sounds in the room it’s located in. The only problem with a fan is that it’s not practical in the winter, so I use the same solution of producing a white sound, but in a machine that mimics the sound of a fan running without cooling your bedroom.
There are two kinds of noise makers – one that is computerized and runs on a loop or one that makes the white noise with the help of a small fan and different sized vents to amplify the sound. I prefer the secondary unit because the ones that run on a loop can wake you up each time the loop kicks in.
Another method of reducing noise is to wear earplugs. They can reduce or eliminate sounds outside your home. Unless you’re a light sleeper like I am where earplugs only marginally cut down sound.
You can find some other suggestions from wikihow.com in their article, "How to Sleep with Lots of Noise."
Now that you know some solutions to help cut down on the noise you hear at night, it’s time to put them into practice. This way, as the Bible verse above says, your sleep won’t flee from you, but will grace you with the ability to wake up refreshed in the morning.
Psalm 3:5 - I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
One sheep, two sheep, three sheep … on march the sheep coming into the pen of your mind and hopefully onto a good night’s sleep. But sometimes, actually many times, the sheep won’t come through the gate, or they wander off to someone else’s sleep pen.
Sleep is an important subject to talk about. Sleep is when your energy is replenished and people with chronic pain need every minute they can get.
Sleep deprivation results in the following:
• Difficulty concentrating
• Lethargy – no energy
• Physical Complaints
Let’s talk about a few ideas for helping to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. First off you can’t go to bed at a different time every day. Our bodies like schedules so try to pick a time of day to go to bed and stick with it.
Second, going to bed angry whether you’re angry with your spouse or children, or even yourself will cause you to stay awake. Nothing is important enough that you have to “carry” it to bed with you.
Third, your mind has to believe that you will fall asleep. Try saying, for example, to yourself: “I feel safe. I’m going to fall asleep.” Or, you could repeat the Bible verse above. God cares about your sleep, too. He provided us with our Ultimate Hope which carries us through the anxiety we may have when we can’t fall asleep.
Forth, you may need to move your room around. Perhaps your bed faces your bedroom window and you can see the street light outside. The light will keep you awake so try moving your bed away from the window.
Fifth, turn your clock around so that you won’t see it. If you keep looking at the clock and the hours go by you may become anxious because you’re losing sleep.
Last, don’t eat in bed. It’s not just that the crumbs hang around on your mattress. Your body will associate the bed with eating so it may keep you awake thinking that it’s time to eat.
But if you still can’t fall asleep, don’t stay in bed tossing and turning. Get up and find something relaxing to do, like reading a book, and then try to fall asleep again.
I hope this post has given you some ideas that you can adapt to help you fall asleep. If you have other ideas to help you fall asleep select the blue “comments” below and tell us about it. I look forward to hearing from you.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.