Truth for Painsomnia


I spent hours sitting in front of the toilet, waiting for the nausea to die down. When I finally worked up the willpower, I climbed into bed with my trashcan. I fell asleep holding my trashcan long after the world was asleep.

That night it wasn’t painsomnia, but so many nights I’ve been awake long after I should be, from nausea or pain or illness-induced nightmares. Many nights, I’ve cried myself to sleep, wishing to be a carefree, normal little girl again.

Today, I want to talk to the one with painsomnia. Painsomnia is insomnia caused by unrelenting, chronic pain. Actually, I also want to talk to the painsomniac whose pain is not physical or whose pain isn’t pain exactly but something else like nausea or feverishness or insatiable hunger caused by illness.



If this is you, listen up.

I know it can feel so lonely at night when you’re the only one awake. When the pain is so much that you can’t focus to distract yourself through reading, TV, or some other mode of relief. When sleep won’t come, despite your exhaustion, and you know you’ll be tired in the morning.

I know it’s lonely. But you are not alone. Not only are there a lot of other painsomniacs out there to keep you company (I also recommend befriending an Australian), but we have a God who does not sleep. He does not go on vacation or become unavailable to us. He is with us in every single moment.



He sees us, all alone, trying to be quiet despite our desire to scream or to ransack the fridge or to listen to music. He knows what it’s like to be alone while others are sleeping, when all you want is some company. Remember Jesus in the garden before His crucifixion, asking his disciples to stay awake and pray with Him?

“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” (Matthew 26:39-41)

This happened three times! He knows what it’s like. But praise God, God never sleeps. We don’t have to wait for His green dot to pop up and alert us He’s active.

“He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)



God watches us. God sees us. He waits with us for the morning. God understands what it’s like. God sits with us in the pain and the painsomnia.

We are not alone.

So next time anxiety, depression, nausea, breathing difficulties, feverishness, barometric pressure, lies, shaking, questions, or painsomnia keep you up, read Psalm 121. Or if you can’t, listen to it on your Bible app. And if you can’t do that either, remember that God is with you in this, too. And He doesn’t sleep.

First published August 2019 at Published with permission.

Happy Bubbles
S.G. Willoughby

S.G. Willoughby

Sara is the author of He’s Making Diamonds: A Teen's Thoughts On Faith Through Chronic Illness and host of the annual Diamonds Conference for chronically ill Christians. She loves to write and adventure - be it a new board game with her family, trying a weird food, or diving into a fantasy book. Sara is a TCK, a Lymie, and a Young Life Leader.

Pain's Greater Purpose

Pain, cultivated by the Spirit’s compassion, invites us to care deeply for one another, grow together, suffering with one another so that none of us is isolated or alone. Pain opens the door to the Spirit’s compassion in us.

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