Does God want each of us to get more sleep?
Last year, sleep deprivation was declared a public health problem in America, with 30 percent of adults getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night.
Someone commented: “You can see it in their eyes. The dark circles of a mother who hasn’t slept more than a few hours since baby was born, who squints and smiles through the fatigue that has become her new normal. The glassy eyes of a workaholic who isn’t sure if she should be embarrassed or proud of her latest all-nighter. The heavy lids of the friend whose depression or chronic pain won’t let her get a solid eight hours.
Researchers agree with the age-old adage of the psalmist: “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
“Poor sleep certainly has a more profound effect on women than on men,” said a medical researcher, who found significantly greater increases in stress, anxiety, depression, diabetes, and heart disease among women with poor sleep than with men.
Overall, women are 20 percent more likely to be insomniacs and suffer worse from it than men, according to a medical journal.
One of the most dramatic events in the ministry of Jesus—and a great test of the disciples’ faith—begins and centres on Jesus’ sleeping through a storm. Not only does Jesus admonish us through this story to have strong faith, but his example teaches us also to sleep well.
A few Christians have gone as far as suggesting that getting more sleep is among the ways Christians can serve the body of Christ and their communities.
As a surgeon writes: “Sometimes the godliest thing you can do in the universe is get a good night’s sleep—not pray all night, but sleep. I’m certainly not denying that there may be a place for praying all night; I’m merely insisting that in the normal course of things, spiritual discipline obligates you get the sleep your body needs.”
The evening prayer, called Compline, says, “May the Lord Almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end.”
Maybe it is hypocrisy to pray for a quiet night and a perfect end if we know we are going home to put in several more hours answering email.