Have you experienced nights when you just can’t fall asleep? Most of us have laid in bed hoping and praying for sleep to come. But instead, we toss and turn and watch the hours go by on the clock. How do we know when a few sleepless nights actually transitions into the sleep disorder known as insomnia?

By definition, insomnia is the inability to fall asleep, or to stay asleep. Transient insomnia is short-term and lasts for only a few days. It is usually caused by a certain event in one’s life and commonly referred to as “keeping us up at night.”

The other more serious condition is known as chronic insomnia and lasts for more than a three week period. It affects millions of individuals and seems to be more likely to occur in women and older adults. There are several causes for this disorder and chronic fatigue sets in quickly when our bodies lack the necessary rest we require.

While there are a variety of causes for not sleeping, worrying about life’s challenges ranks high on the chart for many of us. It is during these difficult times that we must continue placing our faith in God to truly achieve inner peace.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:6-7, KJV

Some of the causes of insomnia include: medical conditions, psychiatric conditions, side-effects from medication, stress, substance use and disturbed sleep cycles resulting from a variety of sources. For several of these symptoms, it may be necessary to discuss them with your doctor. However, there are some basic things you can do at home that may also help alleviate the insomnia.

Let’s start by getting back to basics with your eating habits and exercise routine. For fruits and vegetables, they say a good rule of thumb is to eat the colors of the rainbow every day. Take a look at your substance intake. If you drink caffeine or alcohol close to bedtime, these beverages will make it more challenging for your body to sleep throughout the night.

Are you thinking, “Exercise routine, who has time for that?” Our lives are busy, so if you don’t have time for a full workout, here are a few quick tips: try taking a walk during your lunch hour, use the stairs instead of the elevator, park a bit further away in the store parking lot or put on some music at home and dance. These are easy things that you can do to get in some daily exercise and your body will thank you with a better night’s rest.

Also, take a look at your bedtime routine. Do you have bright lights on or do you watch television in bed? Help your body transition by setting the mood for sleep. Turn off lights and try to have some quiet time to let go of the day. This is the perfect time to strengthen your relationship with God.

Make a commitment to allocate 15 minutes every evening to talk to God. It is a wonderful way to fill your heart will love and peace, while preparing your mind and body for the rest it needs and deserves.

Do you remember the lyrics of the song Count Your Blessings? It was first recorded in 1954 by Bing Crosby and can be heard in the original version of the movie White Christmas. The lyrics include “If you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep, and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.” When we share with others what we are thankful for, we are also sharing God’s love.

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