Finding the Off Button

offbtn-1For years I have said, I need to find the off button for my brain.  It is usually firing on all cylinders with new ideas all day {and night} long.  Downtime to me is doing 2 things instead of 5.  For the last year, I have had the hardest time getting to sleep at night, which of course affects everything else during the day.

I tried cutting out caffeine.  Didn’t work.  Caffeine actually is calming at night for me.  Go figure that.  I tried quoting every sleep scripture I could find. Psm 127:2 was my nightly anchor.  I tried my timeless trick for overcoming jet lag before it lags and me with it. {Mentally set your clock to where you are going and stay up until it is their time to go to bed. Viola!}

Yesterday, I went back to my doctor to hear the results on the plethora of things I was being tested for.  I had a clean and I do mean squeaky clean bill of health according to the lab work.  Thank You Jesus.  And thank you for praying for me.

Our working theory now is that after 7+ years of being beat up overseas with poor nutrition, little to no quality sleep, extreme stress {war zones are stressful anyway you cut it regardless of HOW much faith you have in them}, 18 rounds of a super-nasty strain of malaria, a plethora of other tropical bugs and a crazy transition year, my body has just basically said, “I’m done being ignored. My turn now.”

{Regardless of the impact, I can tell you this: It has been worth it all to see God pouring out on my family in S Sudan now in the middle of crisis. I am beyond grateful.}

My doc said basically, “Eat 3 meals a day.  Sleep 8 hours or more a night.  Exercise.  Spend time outside.”  And I laughed.  Three meals a day.  Really?  {I am not a big eater, rarely cook and am the antithesis of a foodie.} And 8 hours.  I really laughed.  So I told him my sleep dilemma.

His response.  “Your circadian rhythms are off.”  My circus-what?  Huh?  Dim memories from 10th grade bio made the phrase vaguely familiar.  But I couldn’t quite pull them forward clearly enough to see the definition.

He explained and told me, no more high def TV {I don’t have any TV, so check on that one}, no iPad and no computer 2 hours before bed.  Seriously? I’ve been glued to my screens waiting to feel sleepy until 2 minutes before bed.  And apparently that has been part of the problem.

High def screens emit a full-light spectrum {my Kindle Paper White is fine thankfully} and trick your brain into thinking it is still daylight outside, which translates into wakeful chemicals being produced by a really confused brain and sleep remaining elusive.

Fully committed to become healthy and do my part in taking care of myself {for once}, I dutifully turned off my computer/iPad about 10:15pm last night.  Read a little in my Kindle, journaled and climbed into bed.  And I was out like a light.  Stranger still I woke up with the dawn 90 minutes before my alarm was set.

I realized this morning as I had my cup of coffee, in South Sudan, at night my battery would have died and with no more stored power, sleep was inevitable and came quickly. Being bone tired all the time probably helped as well. Now I actually have to hit the off switch because we have power 24/7 here.

I am still learning the things that were absolutely so natural in Africa, have to be intentionally contended for in the West:   Sleep.  Relationships. Silence.  Intimacy with Jesus.  Solitude.  Family.  Freedom in worship.  Power {as in the heavenly kind}.  The interior life.  Hiddeness.  Simplicity.  I could go on but you get the drift.

To all my late night/creative friends out there who decide to check Facebook one more time or get one more blog post written before you turn in and then toss and turn chasing sheep… Try turning off your computer/iPad/HD TV 2 hours before bed and see what happens. Your brain may have just been confused like mine has been by the light spectrum thinking it was still daylight and it should be awake and you with it.  Definitely first world problems!

Who knew?  The off switch I have been looking for for years is the one found on my computer.  Selah.