Let these tips from holy men and women give you relief from sleepless nights.
My world and its numerous problems always look much better after sleep. And the better I sleep at night, the more wonderful and clear everything looks in the morning. I am blessed to be able to fall asleep and stay asleep fairly well most of the time. But on the nights when I can’t get to sleep, I dread what the next day will look like. Here are some sleep tips from the saints that have helped me when I go through a spot of sleeplessness.
Try bread and water before bed like St. Philip Neri
This joyful saint was known for his hospitality and humor, and many people loved spending time with him. He only ate bread and water, which surprised many of his guests. How could someone so happy and funny be eating such a boring diet?!
But his daily bread may be just the thing you need to help you sleep better. Studies have shown that it’s important to avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. While you might think that having a drink at night would help you sleep better, it actually makes the quality of your sleep worse. So instead of that coffee or black tea and nightcap before bed have a piece of bread and a few sips of water.
Pray the Rosary like St. Jacinta and St. Francisco
St. Jacinta and St. Francisco were two of the children at Fatima who were privileged to see Mary when she appeared. She told them to pray the Rosary every day.
If you are tired of counting sheep, try asking for Mary’s help by praying the Rosary. When you start, you can ask your guardian angel to finish the prayers for you if you end up falling asleep before you finish!
Take an evening walk like Blessed Stanley Rother
The Oklahoma-born priest Father Stanley was no stranger to walking. He grew up on a farm, was a groundskeeper and gardener while in seminary, and volunteered to serve in rural Guatemala.
If you haven’t done much manual labor in your daily activities, it might be harder to fall asleep. So, take a walk around the block, and ask Blessed Stanley for some extra stamina if you need it.
Create a cozy and distraction-free bedroom like St. Benedict
It is best if the place you sleep isn’t also the place where you do everything else in your life.
St. Benedict, the father of monasticism in the west, had specific rules for the sleeping arrangements of his monks. Make sure your bedroom is geared towards sleep, and not towards work or entertainment. If that means spending less time in your room during the evening, or if it means rearranging some things, so be it.
Start a prayer journal like Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur
A good way to process your day and a nice way to wind down for the evening is to keep a journal. The French wife Elisabeth kept a journal in which she shared her prayers for her husband’s conversion.
Do a work of mercy before bed like Servant of God Dorothy Day
Dorothy Day wanted to live every day focused on caring for others. There are 14 works of mercy total in the Catholic Church, which gives you 14 concrete ways to serve those around you before the end of each day. The corporal works of mercy include feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. And you can find out more about the spiritual works of mercy here.
Let go of anxiety before sleep like Padre Pio
The oft-quoted line “Pray, hope, and don’t worry” is attributed to Padre Pio, the Italian priest and mystic saint. Anxiety can make it very difficult to get to sleep, so take a page from Padre Pio’s book and let go of anxiety before your head hits the pillow. Find out more about a specific prayer that could help, written by a priest whom Padre Pio admired.