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.
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.
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)