QUESTION: I had a situation occur in my life around 27 years ago where I had gone with insufficient amounts of sleep for a prolonged amount of time—as the disciples had in the Scripture cited—and saw apparitions of persons very close to me that were asleep, but still alive—as in the case of our Lord, Jesus Christ, when he was transfigured. While very much frightened by the visions in the middle of the night, I prayed that all would be well. Five hours of uninterrupted sleep out of 8 total/night average seems to work well.
PASSAGE: "Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him" (Matthew 17:1-3 NRSV).
COMMENT: The Transfiguration is described in all three synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke) and would have had great significance, in particular, to Jewish readers of those gospels—or to Jews who heard the stories that had been transmitted orally prior to the appearance of the Gospels. Moses and Elijah are the highly emblematic figures representing the law and the prophets—the whole essence of Jewish faith. Placing Jesus in their midst was making a strong statement about his role in fulfilling the law and the prophets and opening a door to expanded spiritual awareness.
Metaphysically, the Christ Light within us embraces and illuminates all the religious traditions and teachings we have experienced, enabling us to understand them fully as the creative expressions of God we truly are. This awareness is not a function of our intellect. It occurs "up a high mountain" in the heart center. And we are not meant to stay in that lofty awareness. We are asked to bring it back down the mountain, into the lower dimensions of our human lives, so that its light can transform everything into expressions of the kingdom of heaven.
I see nothing to indicate that the disciples' sleepiness was a factor—perhaps you're thinking of the experience in the Garden of Gethsemane when they were unable to stay awake with Jesus. And certainly there is nothing to fear in visions, whether daytime or nighttime. They cannot harm us—there is no power that can harm us. And they may be a source of helpful guidance if we simply open our hearts and wait.