Recently I taught on the importance of the Sabbath, and I enjoyed it because I personally learned a lot. Consider this: God could have made us super productive humans who don't need to stop, but He didn't. He made us so that we need rest. He made us need sleep. He even went as far as turning off the lights so that we couldn't be as productive, and in an early agrarian society the work would have to stop.
The problem is we now have technologies (such as electric lights) that allow us to work around the clock, but our bodies won't. Mental illnesses are at an all-time high, and many experts are tracing the problems back to sleep, or to the lack thereof. Personally, every case of psychosis that I've pastored someone through has involved sleep deprivation.
Sleep: Get You Some
A friend of mine recently visited a sleep specialist to get help with his insomnia. His big takeaways were simple and yet effective, so I thought I would pass them on here. If getting a good night’s sleep is never a problem for you, then these tips might not be necessary; but I think a significant percentage of people do struggle with not getting enough sleep.
The five keys to getting a good night’s sleep are:
Be still and in bed for 7 hours. The magic number of hours of sleep needed is different for everyone, but few people can be healthy on less than 7. For a base line, though, don't even make it about sleep necessarily. Just make it your goal to be still and in bed for at least 7 straight hours.
Get up at the same time each day. Try to set your body’s natural alarm clock by getting up at the same time each day. Rather than "sleeping in" on the weekends, or trying to catch up on sleep that you’ve missed, get up at the same time each day. I have a 5-month-old who can help.
No caffeine for 10 hours before you go to bed. Caffeine is a powerful, addictive stimulant. Your body works in a natural rhythm, and stimulants like caffeine can throw that rhythm off.
No close-by lit technology (like computers, tablets, or cell phones) for 3 hours before you go to bed. This is a big one, and the reason is very interesting. Our bodies’ rhythms revolve around light. Sunrise signals our bodies to wake up. Sunset signals our body to go to sleep. Holding a lit screen close to your face serves as a replica sun, signaling to your body that it is not time to shut down, but rather time to wake up. A television far from your body can be the exception, and reflective lighting (the lights in your house) is fine. Also, stay away from bright alarm clocks or setting your iPhone right before bed.
No problem-solving for 3 hours before you go to bed. This is where worry canreally cut into your sleep, keeping your brain running when it is supposed to be shutting down to recharge. So don't think too strategically or emotionally before you go to bed. If something is running around in your head, write it down and pick it up the next day.
If you have trouble sleeping, try these tips for 30 days. It will be a challenge at first, but I believe you will find it helps you catch some Zs.
What helps you sleep?