(Estimated reading time 2 minutes)

The 3 am, not-quite-conscious, strain-induced, muddle of thought and emotion is perfectly blended into a lethal , shut-you-down kind of cocktail that is hard to navigate. These are quicksand-thoughts that leave you tossing and turning in the half waking until you finally give up on sleep.

I’ve heard a couple of people talk about stress-induced, sleepless nights recently and I’m not immune to them myself. The thoughts and feelings that keep us from sleep seem to have superpowers in the darkness – immobilizing us in nightmares from which we feel we will never awake. So, what can we do to stop the racing thoughts and full-throttle emotion of 3 am?

Stop fighting what is happening. Get up. Take a few minutes to notice your emotional and mental surroundings. Leave your criticism behind. Where are your thoughts getting stuck? What kind of repetitive language are you using about yourself or others in these moments? What is happening to your body?

Take slow, deliberately deep breaths. Find something calm and solid to focus on like a quote or an image. Here is one of my favorites:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:6-

You may not be able to change the situation that is keeping you awake, but you can make small changes to your focus and your body (like slowing down your breathing) that will help get you unstuck and potentially back to sleep. Schedule some time with yourself to think about whatever is keeping you awake without the shadows that come at 3 am.

Small-scale choices can have a significant impact.

Small choices


I’m passionate about helping people recognize what’s holding them back and inspiring them to move beyond the shadows towards clarity, compassion, courage and confidence.

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