Some nights—and for a few of us, most nights—are restless and sleepless. Whether our lack of sleep is due to anxiety, a crying baby, a sick child, or a reason unknown even to ourselves, we may find ourselves wide awake at night.
Over the past two years I have experienced sleepless nights in an intense way. Up most of the night, I am anxious and restless during a time when I should be peaceful and rejuvenated.
What Can I Do When I Can’t Sleep?
There are a few ways that I have sought help in trying to sleep:
- Reform Wellness
- Turning to the Saints
It is this last way that I would like to share about. The Saints are God’s gift to us. The Saints “do not cease to intercede with the Father for us” and lead us closer to Christ, the source of all grace (see Lumen Gentium 49). They strengthen us in our journey towards our heavenly home, instilling in us the hope of the Resurrection through their life story, witness, and prayer. The more we call upon their intercession, the more we realize how active and effective their friendship is.
Saints to Turn to When You Can't Sleep
Here are some Saints to turn to when you cannot sleep at night. These Saints, each in their own unique way, encountered God during the night. They teach us how to endure nightly trials, sufferings, and wakefulness through their trust and intimacy with the Creator of nights and sleep, God Himself.
The next time you are unable to sleep, ask the intercession of one (or all!) of these Saints.
God spoke to Saint Joseph at night. God instructed Joseph to “get up...” and act in his dreams (see Matthew 2:13). Is God asking us to do something that we have been putting off? Is God instructing us at night to do something? Do we allow ourselves to have enough space and silence during the day to hear God’s will? Or is the only space and silence that we are giving God to speak happening at night?
Let us ask Saint Joseph to quiet our hearts to hear God’s will for us and to act if He is calling us to do something... something that will keep us up at night until we do His will.
Saint John Bosco
Another dreamer was Saint John Bosco. There is a book entitled Forty Dreams of Saint John Bosco that shares his dreams and how he spiritually interpreted them.
In one dream, Saint John Bosco saw tumultuous waters, filled with battling ships. Yet there was one strong and mighty ship. On the water appeared two columns with images atop of each: one of Our Lady, Help of Christians; and on the other column, Jesus in the Eucharist. With all its might and strength, the large ship steered itself towards the two columns and finally anchored itself to them.
That is when peace comes.
If we are anxious, tired, frustrated, or scared when we are awake at night, let us turn to Our Lady and Jesus in the Eucharist, make a spiritual communion, and ask them to anchor us in the reality of their love for us.
Saint Mary Magdalene
Awaken early to greet the Resurrected Christ, Saint Mary Magdalene is the nightly watch-woman. “Upon my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loves…” (Song of Solomon 3:1).
While others slept, the apostle to the Apostles was awake and ready to receive the grace of encountering Christ in the quiet early hours.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
This Blessed in Heaven would spend entire nights in Adoration. One night, while kneeling and adoring Jesus in the Eucharist, Frassati became completely consumed in prayer. A witness saw that hot wax from the candles he was kneeling beside began dripping on him and Frassati didn’t even notice. He didn’t even flinch.
When we are awake at night, let our first thought be of Jesus, who asked His disciple in His deepest agony, “Could you not watch one hour?” (Mark 14:37).
Saint Faustina Kowalska
Saint Faustina would spend hours up at night undergoing temptation and spiritual attacks. Let us repeat her words, “Jesus, I trust in You” each night. Let us trust in Him that He is with us, that He loves us, that He is stronger than any temptation we encounter. And even if our bodies cannot rest, let us rest in that love He has for us.
Who are your favorite Saints to turn to when you can't sleep? Let's get our own litany going!