December 31, 2008

To Sleep or Not to Sleep

It's 3 AM my time, and I'm awake for what seems like the 5,000th night in a row. Okay, it's more like a week, but it's starting to feel like 5,000 nights by now. I tend to think too much, and at night, sometimes that catches up with me. I find myself able to fall asleep, just not to stay asleep. I think my mind is in overdrive and just refuses to rest. I wake up saying things in Spanish and actually thinking in Spanish, like "Los perros son muy fuertes." (The dogs are really loud.) I can't seem to shut off the little translator in my brain so I can rest a bit.

For the record, this isn't the first time this sleeplessness thing has happened to me. It's something that I seem to cycle through every now and then, and once it passes, I'm good. I have several theories on this plight...

1. God has His hand in this, and is using this time to draw me closer to Him. Inevitably, what I end up doing when I can't sleep is reading the Bible, walking around the house, and praying. Perhaps God isn't getting enough uninterrupted, focused time with me during the day and my spirit man needs the hours I spend with the Lord on nights like this. Maybe He is preparing me for things I'll be facing soon, or He is birthing something new in my life and requires a little extra of me. Or maybe someone on the list of people who get my nighttime prayers really needs more than the usual intercession, and this is the time God has called me to it.

2. God wants me to sleep, as in Psalm 127:2b ("...he giveth his beloved sleep."), and this is a spiritual battle in which my enemy tries to rob me of that gift. In that case, the result is the same as #1. I pray, I read, I walk. I quote the words of Proverbs 3:24b, which we taught our girls from an early age: "When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet."

3. This is a physical response to stress I've been under lately. Despite all the fun excitement in this life-changing move to a new continent, I have to admit that my body shows the signs of the physical strain it's been under. Obviously, we were on overdrive for months before actually getting here, focused on getting all our "ducks in a row" and bags packed, so to speak. There wasn't much rest in that time period, and since coming here, there are definitely adjustments in the nighttime routine (sleeping in a hot bunk bed, the noise and air movement from the ceiling fan, hearing dogs barking outside the open windows, the random mangoes dropping out of the tree onto our tin roof with a LOUD bang that makes one think a mack truck has hit the house, etc.) Throw on top of that little stresses like not yet having a renter for our house back home, trying to communicate with a new culture of people, working our daily routine into a schedule, keeping up with homeschooling in this heat, etc.

I acknowledge that there is such a thing as culture shock, and although I don't want to think that's what's going on, I have to admit that my brain is tired from all the translating and adjusting and re-adjusting, and that it doesn't want to shut off long enough to let me rest. If this is the true culprit, I still do the same things as above... read some calming scriptures, pray and try to put it all in God's hands.

I've always been a heavy dreamer, with sequences of dreams all night long being the norm for me, but I don't usually wake up every 5 or 10 minutes feeling like I need to get up, not sure if I'm awake or dreaming. I'm doing all the common sense remedies, like not eating close to bedtime, avoiding caffeine, reading a little before falling asleep, wearing comfortable pj's, blah, blah, blah. I even took an antihistamine for a couple nights, thinking the culprit may be the congestion I was having at the time. Unfortunately (or fortunately, in this case), the only one I could find at the local pharmacy was an all-inclusive medicine similar to Ny-Quil, minus the alcohol. That did help me stay asleep, but I have this thing about taking medicines, and I thought the last thing I needed was to develop a dependency on a pill to sleep at night. So the first night I DIDN'T take it, I'm back to square one.

DISCLAIMER: I, even now, am fighting the urge to delete this post before sharing it, as I don't want to sound like a complaining whiner. I really am having a spectacular time here and know that God has great things in store for us in Paraguay. I could just use some prayer support so that my body and mind can rest enough to enjoy those things. Thanks in advance.


  1. I know how you feel! Those dogs barking in the middle of the night, the roosters, the music. . . it takes a while to get used to.

    This is an honest post and I appreciate you sharing it. You would not be human if you did not have these struggles.

    BTW, they have some gentle sleep aids here you can get at the pharmacy, natural herbal kinds. The name slips my mind at the moment, but when I remember I will drop you an email. We sometimes have to take them when we have been gone a while.

  2. Sleep problems suck! I know this too! Sorry for being so blunt but that is how I feel about it...
    That`s also why I never take a "siesta nap" anymore, because I need to be really tired to sleep well at night. Maybe that would help? But maybe you don`t do "siesta" anyway.
    Hope you find something that works for you! Will be praying for you!
    Happy New Year!

  3. We have all been through this. Do not underestimate culture shock becaus half of the battle is recognizing it for what it is.
    The romance of an adventure and change in life starts to wear off after about 6-8 weeks when you realize you are staying! Then it is no longer a fun adventure but a reality that this is now your life!
    Allow yourself room to acknowledge all you have been through, all you have been doing and even the heat can play a toll on sleep patterns.
    Writing this out so honestly is a good thing for you to do! And do not hesitate to call for help. Speaking of which, sorry I wasn't on to get your email the other night.


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