Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Trouble Sleeping?

Two articles in todays papers caught my attention.  One in the WSJ was titled, "Feeling Groggy? Your Brain May be Half Asleep."  The other in the NYT was titled, "A Good Night's Sleep Isn't a Luxury; It's a Necessity." Sleep is a critical issue for us to live a full life, one that is watchful, following the commands of Jesus.  A lack of sleep does lead to a groggy mind, a poor disposition where one is easily open to attacks from the devil.  With a lack of sleep one becomes angry much quicker, lags in moral thinking and is subject to higher risks of many diseases.  The need for sleep is a given for lay people (Some monks who are highly spiritual can go with very little sleep), yet in both of these articles there is no mention of prayer.  They give some good advice but lack the most powerful aid for a good night's sleep.


Here are the points they suggest: 
   1. Establish a regular sleep schedule; 
   2. Limit any naps to 20 minutes; 
   3. Avoid alcohol in evening; 
   4. Don't eat a big meal before bedtime; 
   5. If you use medicines that are stimulants take them in the morning; 
   6. Get regular exercises during the day; 
   7. If pressing thoughts interfere with falling asleep, write them down; 
   8. If you are frequently awakened by need to use the bathroom, 
      cut down on how much you drink near the end  of the day; 
   9. If you smoke, quit; 
   10. Avoid beverages and foods containing caffeine after 3pm.  


But most importantly, establish a regular prayer routine. A half hour of prayer before going to bed will quiet your mind and connect you with God.  The Jesus prayer is especially helpful as it will become an aid even on those sleepless nights.


Below I am reposting a blog entry from Jan, 2009.



Jesus Prayer: Key to a Restful Sleep?

The best way to prepare for a restful sleep is to start a practice of nightly prayer where you repeat one hundred times or more the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

Many of us struggle to get a sound night’s sleep. The drug stores make hugh profits on sleep remedies and there are now even specialized sleep clinics. Most of us are unaware about how our dreams and negative forces impact us during our sleep. We tend to discount this aspect of our life because this all happens deep in our subconsciousness. Our minds are filled with unprocessed stimuli from our busy life during the day that carry over into our night time sleep. What we need is a way to slow down our mind, to calm it, to bring our focus on God before we go to bed so he can bless us with a restful sleep.

The best way to prepare for a restful sleep is to start a practice of nightly prayer where you repeat one hundred times or more the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” This prayer, in the tradition of the Church, is one of the most powerful prayers. As you repeat it slowly in your mind, concentrating on the words, you mind shifts its attention away from your problems of the day. You begin to focus on God and seek His help and forgiveness. After you pray in this way, read a passage from the Bible or from the writings of one of the Church Fathers. You are now filling your mind with spiritual thoughts that will replace those you have collected from a hectic day. Then, as you get into bed, begin again to say the Jesus Prayer. Let it put you to sleep.

This is not as easy as it sounds. You will have to work at it for a while. As you practice it you will find that your mind changes and your sleep deepens and becomes more restful.

This period between being awake and going to sleep is a critical transition period. We shift from control of our conscious mind to our subconscious mind deep within. It is a time when demonic powers can interfere. This is where the prayer helps to open your heart to God in forgiveness, seeking his mercy to grant you a peaceful sleep free from troubling dreams and needless worries. As you enter into this subconsciousness, the prayer will enter deep within and help to open the door of your heart letting the Holy Spirit bring you calm and peace.

If you do experience a bad dream that awakens you, immediately begin to say the Jesus Prayer to bring your mind back to a calm state. Then keep repeating it until you again fall into sleep. After awhile the prayer will automatically begin in your subconscious mind to stop troubling dreams even before you awake.


More on Jesus Prayer
Daily Prayer Basics

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