Amanda Barber

Stories, songs, and thoughts on life.

I am currently accepting voice, piano, and violin students. Learn more or

On Lack of Sleep

15 January 2015

It is approximately a quarter to two in the morning as I write. As family and friends of mine know, I don’t sleep too well sometimes. I can go for several months, sleeping great and then something will trigger me and I’ll have a period of another few months where I have a much harder time sleeping. I’m not sure if I’d call myself an insomniac at this point, but when you lay down to sleep and don’t seven or eight nights out of a month, well, I guess that’s getting close. I simply refuse to get stuck on sleeping pills, so here I am, wide awake. My biggest gripe against my dratted body for keeping me awake at night is the boredom of it all. There are only so many things you can do in the dead of night that won’t wake the whole house. (On a side note, an acquaintance of mine’s mother had insomnia, as well. Her solution was to get up and clean the whole house or practice the bagpipes…BAGPIPES!!…thus ensuring that nobody got a good night’s sleep. Just can’t bring myself to do that. Justin would be grateful if he knew.) Sometimes, I read. Sometimes, I get on Pinterest and read quotes and poetry and stuff because I’m a nerd. Sometimes, I watch a movie with the volume down verrrrry low. Sometimes, I get so bored with the movie, I turn it off and do what I’m doing now…head out to the living room with my blankie, get the fire in the fireplace going, drink some Sleepytime tea, and vegetate.

I used to sleep like a rock every night and took it for granted. Never again. I now know that a full night of blissful, uninterrupted sleep is a privilege. I have two theories as to why my body decides it will not sleep some nights. It all started back in 2012 when I was going to college, taking way too many credits and thoroughly exhausting myself. I’d slip into a semi-unconscious state and then wake up with a start, heart pounding, alternating quickly from broiling hot to icy cold. Then I’d lay awake in bed for the next three hours, heart still beating like it wanted to break out of my chest. Later on that year, my doctor told me I had Lyme disease of the long-term variety which conventional medicine declares is impossible. (Not arguing with anyone about that here, just stating what the doc said.) Between the stress, exhaustion, Lyme disease, mysterious itch-like-crazy rash that suddenly appeared and spread over 75% of my body and left just as suddenly this summer, my sleep cycle has kind of gone out the window. That’s the first theory. My other theory is that my body is loudly proclaiming to me, “Women your age are supposed to have kids that keep them up all night, getting sick, coughing, crying and generally worrying the daylights out of them. Thought you could avoid that just because you don’t have any, huh? Ha!”

At any rate, I used to be so frustrated, anxious, and exasperated by two nights in a row with only six hours of sleep put together. But now, like I said, I just kind of roll with it. Not that I always have the best attitude and not that I don’t sometimes dread the coming of night, but I’ve learned a few things since then…that a long night isn’t really the worst thing that could happen to me even if there’s a busy day tomorrow, I won’t die of it, and God will pull me through. Also, for those of you who also struggle with this problem, do yourselves a favor and don’t look up “insomnia” on Google. When you can’t sleep, hearing about all of the horrible things lack of sleep does to your body is really quite counter productive. Besides, all the sleep tips are useless or impractical. Cut out the coffee in the afternoons? Check. Cut out coffee altogether? Check. Keep all electronics out of your room? Seriously, how am I supposed to do that? Sleep in a completely dark place? Um, there’s a business next door with large streetlights shining past my curtains. Take Ambien? NO!!! Keep your room temperature at sixty-two and three-quarters degrees… The more I try really hard to get a good night’s sleep, the less I actually sleep. I say, just embrace your inner sleep-deprived zombie and enjoy life. Because there really is a great deal to enjoy.

This mesmerizing fire to my left, for instance. There’s nothing quite like sitting in a dark room, staring at a fireplace, enjoying the coziness of it. It reminds me of the psalmist’s words, “While I mused, the fire burned.” I’m pretty sure he didn’t exactly have my scenario in mind, but it kind of works. Another thing I always think about during these long, long nights is how often the Psalms refer to praying to God on our beds and singing songs in the night. I wonder how often David was awake in the wee hours of the night, troubled in mind, as he ran from Saul? I have to believe it was quite often. Though written by Asaph instead of David, Psalm 77 seems to express the sentiments I can imagine David must have felt, “I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.” He goes on to remember God’s works and his ways, to meditate on the things God has done, and then the Psalm which began in so much depression ends in triumph. I take it David and the other psalmists had to do this often, because there are a good many of these types of psalms recorded for us.

It’s interesting how often God seems to call in the night when there are no distractions to be had. There’s very little work that can be done, very few activities and bustlings to cloud one’s minds. Perhaps that is what can be so frightening about nighttime. Life comes to a halt, and what’s left is me and my mind, alone, to keep each other company. But then, there’s also God, which I often forget. There’s time to pray and to think about what God has done. There is time to sing in the night. (Quietly.) Also, you wouldn’t be able to read this fascinating post I’m writing if I’d been able to sleep right away tonight. I went to my bed, thoroughly wondering what on earth I could write about on Thursday. Well, I’m wondering no longer. I guess I’ll leave it up to you whether that’s a good or bad thing. In the meanwhile, I’m going to think of a good song and sing it. Perhaps this one:

In heavenly love abiding, no change my heart shall fear.
And safe in such confiding, for nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me, my heart may low be laid,
But God is round about me, and can I be dismayed?
Wherever He may guide me, no want shall turn me back.
My Shepherd is beside me, and nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waking, His sight is never dim.
He knows the way He’s taking, and I will walk with Him.
Green pastures are before me, which yet I have not seen.
Bright skies will soon be over me, where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure, my path to life is free.
My Savior has my treasure, and He will walk with me.