For some people, the rush and pressure of modern living, often involving crowded work schedules, make sleep elusive. Anxiety about the consequences of this would cloud judgment and keep people awake even when they have the chance to sleep. The Bible promises for the individual who exercises wisdom and discretion, ``When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.'' 1 I remember once hearing this verse read in a Christian Science church very meaningfully at a time when I was doing shift work, and disturbed nights were commonplace. This gave me quite a new concept of sleep.
Sleeplessness is really restlessness. And rest can be experienced in spite of what seem to be unfavorable conditions if thought is quiet enough and expectant enough. It isn't so much sleeplessness that brings fatigue and distress as our fear of it and the importance we attach to it. This in turn comes from thinking of ourselves as material organisms, programmed for alternating periods of consciousness and unconsciousness.
If instead we begin to understand ourselves as spiritual beings, created by God, the one divine Mind, and continuously controlled by this wise and peaceful Mind, then restless thought is readily quieted. We find that we can both sleep better and work better.
Man, as the offspring of God, isn't really a mortal, whether asleep or awake, tense or relaxed, standing up or lying down. The ability to sleep easily and effortlessly depends more on awakening thought to divine Mind's government of all true consciousness--as the very source if it--than on dulling the material senses into acquiescence. And the ability to stay awake if necessary comes just as naturally.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``It is proverbial that Florence Nightingale and other philanthropists engaged in humane labors have been able to undergo without sinking fatigues and exposures which ordinary people could not endure. The explanation lies in the support which they derived from the divine law, rising above the human. The spiritual demand, quelling the material, supplies energy and endurance surpassing all other aids, and forestalls the penalty which our beliefs would attach to our best deeds.'' 2
This truth is applicable to all, not just to great philanthropists or people distinguished in other fields. Mothers with small children to look after, factory workers with irregular hours, or just someone who suffers from insomnia--all can call upon divine law for help. Through prayer, divine Mind can be seen to govern the consciousness of each one. Then we can do whatever we have to do without any difficulty, as well as find appropriate opportunities for rest according to our individual needs.
Christ Jesus didn't allow material conditions to rob him of rest. But he wasn't dependent on regular hours of sleep, for sometimes he stayed awake all night in prayer to God. Jesus showed his dominion over all the winds of unruly mortal thought just as decisively as he rebuked the storm at sea.3 From what the Bible tells us, it seems clear that he never allowed a mesmeric cycle of untoward conditions, lack of rest, stress, and fatigue to get under way.
So it isn't so much sleep as it is the understanding of Mind's government of both consciousness and activity that brings rest to mind and body. And this in turn fulfills the Bible promise of sweet sleep as and when it's needed. 1 Proverbs 3:24. 2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 385. 3 See Mark 4:36-39.