February 18, 2014

Helpful new perspective on sleeplessness

Surrendered Sleep: A Biblical PerspectiveSurrendered Sleep: A Biblical Perspective by Charles W. Page

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first saw this book, I was curious about how there could be a biblical approach to insomnia. The Bible doesn’t say a lot on this subject specifically, but it turns out to have a lot more to say about sleep generally than you might think.

If you’ve already read a lot of “sleep hygiene” literature, some of this book will sound familiar. But Dr. Page takes the approach to healthful sleep to a whole new level.

Whereas most sleep literature focuses on behaviors, Dr. Page understands that there’s more to sleeplessness than the temperature of your room or what time you turn in. He gets it. The things that keep us awake aren’t really our outward habits. The things that keep us awake are our inward anxieties and troubles.

That’s why this book has chapters on relationships, work, and finances—often tops on my list of late-night rumination. He also examines how a closer walk with God, while it might not put us to sleep, will make the sleeplessness easier to cope with.

Plenty of sleep researchers have said something like, if you can’t sleep after half an hour, get up and do something else until you’re sleepy. Which if you’re like me could mean you’re up until 2 or 3 a.m. reading or knitting. Or reading and knitting.

Dr. Page is the first writer I’ve seen suggest that if you’re still awake in the middle of the night, you should probably be praying about whatever is keeping you up.

The book contains a lot of thoughtful questions to probe what is troubling you and where you stand with God. My copy is now thoroughly highlighted and Post-It noted.

There are a few problems with the book; some awkward sentences and typos. The interior page design is striking, but kind of odd and distracting, diced up by dark horizontal and vertical bars. The exploration questions are placed in the margins over a dark gray background, so get a good dark pen if you choose to use the book as a workbook; otherwise your responses will be hard to read. But these are quibbles.

The writing is solid, and the book is well-thought-out and thought-provoking. It may not cure your insomnia outright, but it may lessen the symptoms. It will certainly make insomnia easier to live with.

Disclosure: The author provided me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

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