Another visit to the sleep doctor yesterday -- I'm guessing my last, which kind of makes me sad because he is SUCH a pleasant person to talk to! Anyway, he applauded my successful weaning from the sleep meds and suggested that my main issue now is retraining my body that lying in my bed in the dark is a signal for my brain to shut down and go to sleep. Part of that retraining is getting out of bed when it's clear that my brain is not going to shut off anytime soon and doing something else, something non-stimulating, until I'm convinced I'm really going to go to sleep.
I tried that last night. Kind of. I don't think I realized just how hard that was going to be. We've already discussed here my addiction to comfort . . . my bed is very comfortable at night, even when I'm not sleeping. Oh, it was painful to pull the warm covers off and pull my body upright, to move myself to the love seat and afghan that have been sitting in the cold room unwarmed by my body heat, to pry my eyes open to read something. I did it twice, for about an hour each time. The second time, I was about to fall asleep on the love seat, and of course, once I moved my body into the bed, I couldn't sleep again.
This convinced me that Dr. Summers is right. See, I have spent so much time in my bed not sleeping, just thinking about other things, my brain seems to associate lying in bed in the dark with thinking time, not with sleeping time. I have to change that. But oh, it will not be fun to do it. I fear I won't have the discipline to pull myself out of bed when I'm not sleeping. I LIKE lying in bed in the dark and thinking.
In our small group last night, we talked about how our actions are indicators of our true beliefs. If we really believe that when we pray, we have a private audience with the all-powerful, all-knowing God of the universe who love us intimately and unconditionally, who delights in us, and who desires the best of all things for us . . . honestly, why would we ever get up from our knees? If we live unprayerful lives, it's not a lack of discipline to blame -- it's a lack of belief. Deep down in our heart of hearts, we don't completely believe what we claim to believe. I believe! said the demon-possessed boy's father to Jesus. Help thou my unbelief!
Do I really believe that my brain can be trained to associate the bed in the dark with sleep and nothing else . . . and that training my brain this way will take care of my sleep problem . . . and that getting better sleep will make a significant difference in my waking life? I have to really believe these things, or I won't be able to motivate myself to change my behavior completely and thoroughly. And if I only do it half-heartedly, it won't work.
In other words, I have to believe it will work before it has any hope of working. Like I have to believe that a chair can hold me up before I willfully set my weight on it. And I would have to believe that a tightrope is securely fastened before I could willfully venture to walk out on it. And I have to believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God before I can willfully put my life in his hands.
Sometimes the belief has to be solidly in place first before it can be verified by action. This is faith -- believing before we see. I believe. Lord, help thou my unbelief.