Have you ever had one of those days when you’re physically exhausted after a full day of activity yet you simply cannot fall asleep? You crawl into your cozy bed hoping to drift off into a night filled with sweet slumbers – but as soon as your head hits the pillow, you find yourself wide-eyed and awake!
Your mind begins to replay the events of the day. Instead of counting sheep, you find yourself adding up the number of incomplete items on your To Do list. Before long, you’re fretting about the future and worrying about things that may or may not come to pass!
And on top of that, there are the kids! Perhaps you could fall sleep if only the kids would settle down – but tucking them into bed for a sound night’s sleep is an entirely different matter!
When our children’s hearts race because they’re afraid of the dark or terrified of what lurks beneath the bed and inside their closet – when our kids cling to us or climb into our beds because they’re struggling with separation anxiety – it’s hard for parents to get a good night’s rest.
Because I’ve struggled with sleep issues since childhood and watched other family members toss and turn as well, I’ve tried a number of methods to help myself and my family sleep better. Here are some ideas that have helped us fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly throughout the night. I hope these ideas will help your family get a good night’s rest too!
Create a peaceful sleep environment that makes it easy for you and your kids to relax and is conducive to sleep.
Keep rooms free of clutter. Decorate bedrooms with treasured keepsakes that make your family feel safe and happy. Include family photos, comfort items like stuffed animals or handmade quilts, and framed Bible verses that you and your kids can memorize, recite, and meditate upon.
Here are a few of my favorite Scriptures that I like to think about as I fall asleep. They are perfect to teach our kids as well!
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. – Proverbs 3:24
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. – Isaiah 26:3
Establish a set bedtime for your children.
Create a personalized, relaxing bedtime routine for them that include sleep-inducing activities you know they’ll enjoy. Instead of allowing kids to interact with technology such as television, computers, laptops, video games and smartphones before bedtime (the blue light emitted from these items reduces our body’s production of melatonin and interferes with our sleep), focus on activities that involve quality family time. Go for walks. Play board games. Listen to lullabies and relaxing music. Read aloud.
One innovative book that you and your young ones will enjoy combines a sleepy-time adventure with a sleep-inducing lullaby. Nighty Night And Good Night is the first book in a series of bedtime books by multiple Grammy and Dove Award-winning recording artist Michael W. Smith and VeggieTales co-creator Mike Nawrocki! In this story, the stuffed animal band the Nighty Nights are called upon to help their friend Ben try to fall asleep. This cute and sleepy adventure leads Lamby, Bear, and Sleepy Puppy to discover that a classic lullaby might just do the trick. The book includes a link that allows readers to listen to Michael W. Smith sing the same lullaby that helps put Ben to sleep.
Improve the quality of your prayer life.
Begin by praying more often. When you feel afraid and anxious, practice focusing on God and not your fears. We can teach our children to do this as well!
Many parents have difficulty falling asleep at night because we’re struggling with anxiety – but did you know that our kids are struggling with anxiety as well? According to Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann, a pediatrician from The Children’s Mom Docs:
Twenty to thirty percent of school-aged children struggle to get to sleep and stay asleep all night, and anxiety is a common culprit. – Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann, MD
Thankfully, God gives us this powerful antidote to help us conquer our fears:
Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7
I used to carry the weight of the world upon my shoulders – but now, when I find myself worrying about things that are beyond my control, I remember this Bible verse and begin to prayerfully turn my cares over to God. Knowing that God is watching over me and has everything under His control enables me get a good night’s sleep – sharing and modeling this to our kids helps them to rest as well!
Reading about prayer also helps us to learn more about God, increase our faith, and pray more effectively. New York Times bestselling author Mark Batterson has written a beautiful and inspiring new book, Praying Circles Around Your Future, that encourages us to dream big, pray hard, and uncover our heart’s deepest desires. Sometimes, we need to remember that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” – Ephesians 3:20. Mark Batterson reminds us to persistently pray big, bold prayers, and to watch and wait to see how God shows up in our lives!
Philippians 4:8 encourages us to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. When we fill our heads with pleasantries before bedtime, sweet dreams are sure to follow!
How do you help your kids to sleep at night when they are having trouble settling down? Are there any Bible verses that you have found particularly helpful to meditate upon as you prepare for sleep? Please share your thoughts in the comments!