Pastor to Pastor

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

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Daylight Savings Time is earlier than it used to be. Coming on March 11 this year, we welcomed another hour of daylight. What was the cost of this delight? An hour. Not such a big deal. After all, we picked one up last Fall. How many of us got to bed earlier on Saturday night to make up for the loss? The loss of sleep is a phenomenon documented by the medical field as a loss we cannot afford. Yet we often show up to work with as little as four or five hours of shut eye. Dr. Siang-Yang Tan notes in his book Rest (Servant, 2000) that in the 1850s, the average American slept 9.5 hours a night. True, there wasn't a whole lot to do after the sun went down and candle or gas light is not the same as our compact fluorescent bulbs. They worked hard and slept well. By the 1950s the number dropped to 8 hours. A half century later, the number dropped to less than 7 hours. We still work hard, maybe not in the fields, but we are are in meetings until late into the darkness, expending a good deal of emotional energy. We might be able to function on that amount of sleep, but do we thrive?

In The Good and Beautiful God (InerVarsity Press, 2009), Dr. James Bryan Smith calls us to the discipline of sleep. "Sleep is an act of surrender. It is a declaration of trust. It is admitting that we are not God (who never sleeps) … (p.34). To be sure, there will need to be those rare occasions when we forego the need to get enough sleep. We do not have to be legalists. However the standard of going to bed early enough and of sleeping until we are ready to get up honors the body and soul God has given us as stewards. I've been practicing more of this and can say that I am better rested and more spiritually alert as well. This morning when I slipped out of bed to watch some of the morning news, I took my blanket to my favorite recliner. Finding I was still in need of sleep, I unapologetically closed my eyes and snoozed. Then as an interesting segment flashed onto the screen, I woke to listen intently. Then I asked myself the question, "Do I feel rested?" The answer was yes. And in few more minutes I put away the blanket and continued the process of getting ready for a day of service to the Lord who has given me rest.