Insomnia the night before the sermon event is more common than preachers like to admit. Here’re some suggestions to help those who have trouble sleeping the night before the sermon event. Now, if insomnia is a serious problem throughout the week, then you need to check with a sleep clinic or seek some other medical help. I don’t claim any medical expertise. I’m just sharing my own experience and experience of others.
1) Tune your body clock.
The idea of a body clock is most easily explained through jet lag. Those who fly across time zone, as I often do, experience the body clock routine that was back in the previous time zone. The body has been tuned to meals and rest and other activities. When someone is used to sleeping very late throughout the week, it is hard to sleep early the night before the sermon event. As ministers, many of us have unpredictably hard weeks. Sometimes we have midnight calls about deaths or near-death visits. If possible, we should try to get into the habit of sleeping early and rising early. At the very least, try to start sleeping a little earlier as the weekend approaches so that by Saturday night, we would be able to fall asleep earlier.
2) Prepare your sermon early.
I know this is easier said than done. I have already said previously that if you had long-term plans every few months, you would not have to struggle through which texts to preach, what texts really says, and how to find illustrations. By sermon week, we should be looking several weeks ahead. Any review of sermon material should occur throughout the week. By Saturday night, do NOT touch your final outline or manuscript. Wait till Sunday morning when you wake up early to do that. The last thing you want is for your mind to be occupied with sermon material. An overly active mind will put an end to restful sleep, when restful sleep may be exactly what you need for Sunday-morning clarity.
3) Control your diet
I know most of us can stand to lose a few pounds, but I don’t think most think about the minute issue of diet relating to preaching. On the day before preaching, I suggest staying away from caffeine. Caffeine can wreak havoc in some people. Do not go to bed having too full or too empty stomachs. Do not drink too much water before you sleep either or you may risk a midnight run to the bathroom. The worst part of waking up in the middle of the night is failure to go back to sleep. Sometimes, crazy sermon ideas would pop into your head because of nerves. All this can be avoided if we are careful about our food and drink intake. I know some preachers take melatonin for both jet lag and pre-sermon insomnia as well.
I’m sure preachers who are more experienced than I am can add to this list. Feel free to come up with your own check list and remember to go through the list once in a while just to remind yourself. Good habits are hard to form, as much as bad habits are hard to break.