Why do some people need to make a point to emphasize how little they rest? (As if that somehow makes them better than the person who makes resting a priority!)
The last post on this blog was about being busy. We (primarily Americans) pride ourselves with the ability to juggle far too many commitments. We somehow are deceived into believing what we “accomplish” in a day’s work is some indication of our self-worth. That’s a lie. Whether or not you seem productive to other people has no bearing on your value. You as a human being are adequate. You are loved. You are desired. That’s what matters.
Rest and busyness are two subjects that go hand-in-hand. If you are too busy, you lack the time for rest. If you actually have time to rest, you must not be busy enough, so you’d better step it up! (Or at least that’s what society tries to tell us!)
Here’s the deal. I don’t buy it. I don’t believe we need to be so busy that we lose our joy (or our minds!) There should be a good balance between taking part in activities of value and taking time to relax and unwind.
The reason I’m writing about this is because I’ve noticed what a difference sleep makes in my life. I have sleep issues. There are seasons where I struggle with insomnia, making it difficult to fall asleep at night. I’ll toss and turn until 3 or 4 a.m. before finally out of sheer exhaustion get in a few hours only to go in and out of sleep as I fight with the alarm in the morning. Lately, I’ve been in one of those seasons. It’s quite unpleasant.
It isn’t fun to be unable to sleep when you need it. However, a lot of my sleep problems come from a lack of making rest a priority. Throughout high school and college, I was involved in too much. I didn’t have a regular sleep schedule and squeezed in sleep somewhere between classes, work and other activities. If I had to choose between a midnight adventure to Perkins with the Bible Study or sleep, I’d always choose Perkins. It was that simple. In a sleep vs. anything else competition, anything else would always win. It’s unfortunate. And, very unhealthy.
As I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, I’ve realized that there are things I could have been doing to prevent this. A major thing would have been to be on a somewhat regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday makes a big difference. Lately, I’ve been trying to get things under control. It’s been helping and it makes me altogether feel better.
It’s unfortunate that societal pressures make us feel that if we get decent sleep, we’re somehow the weak ones. Even among Christians, who are well-aware of God’s desire for us to take care of our minds and bodies, still believe the lie. I’ve seen study after study on sleep and how we really should be getting 7-8 hours per night. You’ve probably heard of these recommendations, too.
A few months ago, I was chatting with a youth pastor friend of mine. We talked about a variety of things pertaining to exercise, food, and sleep. At one point in the conversation I mentioned that I need 8 hours of sleep in order to function well. I don’t think he even realized it, but his reaction made me feel like there was something wrong with me for needing that much sleep. He went onto say how he goes to sleep well after midnight and only gets 5 or 6 hours a night. At the time, I figured, good for him, but that was never going to work for me.
I could list countless examples of faithful people in my life who believe in honoring your body yet still (maybe without even realizing it) believe that sleep isn’t all that important. I’m not trying to point fingers and call people out for not prioritizing sleep, but I think there’s a better way to live. I’m challenging myself to make sleep a priority, even if that means missing out on nights out with friends once in awhile. I believe you can still have a good time and be a socially fulfilled while getting restful sleep every night. In fact, you’ll probably be more productive and healthy.
Something I have to continually do in my life is stop making excuses. When thinking about changing habits, it’s easy to say, “well, I have a lot going on” or “it probably won’t work because of x,y, and z.” If you’re reading this and thinking that there’s no way you could start getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night, I challenge you to think again. How would your life be different if you had the energy boost good sleep gives to you? Chances are, you’d be so much better off.
A lot of us are sleep-deprived right now. We don’t take the necessary time to rest and make excuses about it. If you have to rely on coffee to keep you awake through the day, chances are you need more sleep.
Stop believing the lie that just because you need quality sleep to be your best that you are somehow weaker than the rest. Learning how to care for our bodies by giving ourselves the necessary rest we need is going to pay off in the long-run. Hey, even God rested on the 7th day! He gave a commandment to have a day of rest for a reason. Our bodies, minds, and souls need rest, and sleep is a huge part of the equation.
Sleep well, my friends!