While running my own businesses years ago, I’d think nothing of pulling an all-nighter when we were busy. I knew I’d pay dearly for it the next day, and it just wasn’t worth the price. I’d feel grumpy and groggy, tended to forget things and certainly wasn’t bounding with energy. Scientists tell us that lack of sufficient sleep impairs our brain’s ability to function well. Without good sleep, we have a hard time concentrating, making rational judgments and responding quickly in changing situations.
For more than a century scientists have studied, but been unable to agree on, the purpose of sleep. However they all agree that we need it. We were designed to sleep and spend a third of our lives doing it. Sleep not only restores us physically and mentally, it improves our mood and memory. A good night’s sleep lessens the likelihood of disease, increases creativity and concentration, and lowers stress.
Even animals need their quota of shuteye, though different species appear to need different amounts. Elephants and giraffes can get by on four hours or fewer, while lions and pythons require almost twenty hours a night. All of nature has dormant times of restoration.
Life for us is certainly more complex than that of animals. Foraging for food in the jungle while avoiding predators may have its risks, but not usually the kind that leads to sleep deprivation. In contrast, our lifestyle today seems fraught with activities and temptations designed to prevent restful sleep. We hurry around in our noisy, stressful world, consume quantities of caffeine, often don’t get enough exercise or take time to simply relax. On top of that, we tend to worry—and anxiety so easyily steals our precious, peaceful sleep.
God designed us to need sleep and rest. I believe He gave us sleep as a gift. In addition to restoring our bodies and minds, this gift of sleep is a constant daily (or nightly) reminder that:
- As finite humans we’re not in control. God is. And He never sleeps. “What a relief! The One who watches over Israel never leaves for rest or sleep.1” Psalm 121:4
- We’re not ‘home’ yet, but one day we will be. “And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever. 2” Revelation 22:5
- God delights to bless us. Falling into bed and relaxing after a long and busy day is a blissful treat. “Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves? 3” Psalm 127:2b
Sleep—a gift from God? It truly is. And one I’m more committed than ever to value and honor. No more all-nighters!
What ideas do you have that might help us to enjoy sleep? Let me know below.
1The Voice Bible
2New Living Translation
3The Message Bible