I have, more often that I’d like to admit, taken problems to bed with me and spent some of those nights restlessly trying to solve them. Most of us probably have a hard time “turning off” our minds so that we can sleep at night, rather than tossing and turning all night wrestling with some problem or perhaps our fears about some upcoming event. It’s hard not to think about things that have happened and how we should react to them or not to run over and over all of the worst case scenarios that we can imagine about some upcoming event.
The truth is that what we really need is a good night’s sleep so that we can awaken refreshed and ready to take on whatever we face that day. Pulling an “all-nighter” never worked for me in college and it doesn’t work today when faced with problems that will need to be solved tomorrow. Perhaps John Steinbeck had it right when he said:
“It is a common experience that a problem, difficult at night, is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”
The human mind is a wonderful thing, but it can also be highly self-destructive. During the day there are usually lots of things going on to keep it busy, even if it is also engaged in solving a problem or planning for an upcoming event. While we are fully awake, most of us have the discipline to focus our minds on the tasks at hand in some organized way. It is when we lie down to sleep that we may find that given nothing else to occupy it our mind starts to run wild and in many directions at once (creating that “ruffled mind” that Charlotte Bronte referred to).
As we lay there at night, our imagination conjures up scenario after scenario, perhaps each more implausible than the last, but still we explore them in our half-asleep state. We’re not really asleep, but our minds are creating nightmares. Why? Because we feel that we must somehow solve whatever the problem is that we are fixated upon; even if there is no “solution”. We cannot admit that there may be no solution. We cannot accept that we can’t somehow solve it (whatever “it” is).
Perhaps the hardest thing for me to learn in my life was to let go of things and admit that I cannot solve all of the problems that I might encounter. Sometimes I just have to lay there in bed and let go by using my favorite little prayer – “Not my will but thy will be done.” I will admit that I mentally fight it sometimes and I may have to repeat that prayer several times before I really can let go and trust that everything will be OK if I just put things in God’s hands.
Sometimes, when I need to convince myself that I’m still a little bit in charge of things I’ll change it up a bit by praying instead, “Lord, help me make the right decisions.” It least that lets me feed my ego and think that I’m more involved the solution process then. The important thing is to let go of the feeling that you are alone in whatever the situation is and that only you can affect the outcome and ask God for help. Try my little prayer and see if it works for you, too.
If you can get to that point where you can let go and put things in God’s hands; then you can get that good night’s sleep that you really need. You will likely find in the morning that Steinbeck’s advice then applies.
Have a great night’s sleep tonight!