Sometimes You Just Can’t Sleep

It’s March, a few weeks after the clocks sprang forward, and little Molly is struggling with bona fide insomnia.

She is wide awake at 11 p.m.

At 1 a.m.

At 3 a.m.

night sky

When she finally falls asleep, she finds it nearly impossible to wake up for school the next morning. And the cycle continues.

The medicine she takes when she’s developing cold symptoms may be the culprit. The bug she’s fighting could be doing it. It may be due to sadness that one of her close friends is moving away. The G-rated-but-action-packed movie we watched one night may be a contributing factor.

Whatever the reason, Molly can’t sleep. And it’s becoming more and more troublesome for her.

After a weekend of insomnia, she sits on my bed Sunday night, looking sad. Her expression grows sadder and sadder, until I notice her face scrunching up and a single tear trickling down her cheek.

“What is the matter, honey?” I ask as I kick off my shoes and climb up on the bed facing her.

“I have mixed feelings about going to bed,” she says, and the tears start in earnest.

She’s tired, she explains, but whenever she goes to bed, she can’t sleep. She’s starting to dread going to bed, starting to fear it.

I know exactly how she feels.

I never used to have trouble sleeping unless I had something on my mind that was really bothering me. Now, though, I wake up often throughout the night, sometimes so hot I feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust. Unfortunately for me, my lack of knowledge about insomnia is gone, replaced by complete and total empathy (with an occasional side of extreme frustration).

But I’m a grownup. I understand about these things, even though I don’t like them much.

When you’re 10, it’s different. You don’t understand why you can’t sleep. And that makes it all the worse.

“Eventually, your body will get so tired that you will sleep at night,” Randy tells her.

“Jesus is with you, and you can always talk to Him,” I remind her.

But we also take practical steps to help. A growing girl does need her rest, after all.

We prepare a snack for her to eat if she gets hungry in the night. We gather some books to read, some kinetic sand to play with, a water bottle if she gets thirsty. She places it all on a chair by her bed.

Both my daughters sleep on top of their comforters, under an assortment of soft blankets, to save themselves the extra work of making their beds in the morning. But I’m a firm believer in the notion that the weight of covers can induce sleep, so, for the time being, we put aside efficiency to facilitate coziness.

We remove everything from the head of her bed—the stuffed animals, the pillows, the plush bath wrap (don’t ask), the notebooks and ruler from under the pillows (again, don’t ask), the soft blankets—and make sure one side of her comforter is snug against the wall. We pull back the comforter so she can sleep under it.

She attaches a tiny reading flashlight to her canopy with a string she finds in the back of the bookcase. It hangs over her head, just in case she needs it.

We get her all situated. We read her devotional book together. We pray.

She’s all set.

She has options.

She has a plan for what to do if she can’t sleep.

She’s ready.

And when we check on her some time later, she’s sound asleep.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

Lois Flowers

P.S. I’m linking up this week with Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory and Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart.

10 Responses to Sometimes You Just Can’t Sleep

  1. My 9 year old went through sleep issues last year. She was afraid of getting in trouble at school so she would lay there worrying. It was hard for us to not be able to help! We taught her verses to recite about fear and prayed.
    She seemed to get better once she realized she could talk to me about it. I just ordered a book with yoga poses to help kids sleep. Hopefully that will be good for all of us!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’m glad your daughter is doing better, Sarah. This is one of those situations where there is no easy “fix,” and that can make a mama feel pretty helpless! I hope the steps you’ve taken will continue to work when she goes back to school in the fall. And that you both are getting lots of good slumber in this summer!

  2. What a good mom you are to walk the insomnia journey with your daughter, loving and guiding her in the physical, emotional and spiritual. Blessings!
    (from Holley’s link up)

  3. Thanks for sharing this sweet story with us at #RaRaLinkup today! I LOVE that verse from Psalms and regularly recite it with my daughter before bed. 🙂

  4. Linda Stoll says:

    Don’t you just love options, Lois? They give us a Plan B. And sometimes that frees us up and lets us rest.

    Sleep in heavenly peace, sweet girl. Your mama, too …


    • Lois Flowers says:

      You know, I think you are on to something about options, Linda. Just knowing there’s another option–or letting someone else know he or she has another option–really is freeing. Even if Plan A ends up working out. Blessings to you today!

  5. Lois, I am so with you on this! My tween and I battled together in the insomnia trenches for a long time. If your sweet one struggles again, here are a few more ideas for what helped us: Blessings on you, fellow mama!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Elizabeth, thanks so much for sharing your article on insomnia. It’s full of helpful information, including several bits I hadn’t thought about before. And after reading your “Blog Backstory,” I am looking forward to reading more of your writing! 🙂

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