Why We Can’t Sleep

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I’ve enjoyed Tish Harrison Warren’s Prayer in the Night. One of the chapters I most liked was about praying for those who rest. Ironically, as I write this, I should be sleeping.

She writes that sleep is “so vulnerable.” “We sometimes have a hard time embracing it. We stay up late, staring at screens, working or vegging out, lightbulbs buzzing softly into the night. We resist our bodily limits in every way we can.” (*Nervous laughter* as I am writing this late at night).

When we sleep, “We dream. We fight illness. We form, sort, and strengthen memories from our days. Scientists tell us that learning happens in our sleep, and is even dependent on our sleep.”

Harrison points out that, “Our bodies are set up so that we have to loosen our grip on self-sufficiency and power if we are to thrive.” She quotes James Bryan Smith on the point that, “You cannot make yourself sleep. You cannot force yourself to sleep. Sleep is an act of surrender. It is a declaration of trust, admitting that we are not God (who never sleeps), and that that is good news. We cannot make ourselves sleep, but we can create the conditions necessary for sleep.” It’s a “posture of surrender.”

Why is it so hard for us to surrender? Hey, I live in NYC, which prides itself on never sleeping. Are we truly this dysfunctional? When did this control and exhaustion become a badge of honor. And if sleep requires trust and surrender, what does our restlessness really mean?

Published by Gabriela Yareliz

Gabriela is a writer, editor and attorney. She loves the art of storytelling, and she is based in NYC.

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