During the summer of 2007 I was hit hard with Lyme disease, missing about a month of work. One of the most lasting effects of the disease was the lack of sleep, which lasted for many months, and came back again in 2010 when I suffered another bout with Lyme. I felt like I was in a constant fog, could not focus, had trouble remembering things, was irritable (this may be an understatement; feel free to check with my husband), and had trouble falling and staying asleep at night.
On a missions trip in 2015, our days were full of activity, and we probably could have used more sleep. Our wise leader decided to opt out of our afternoon activities one day to stay behind for a nap. Her advice, which has carried with me ever since, was “The best thing a tired Christian can do is to sleep.”
I am currently reading a fascinating book entitled “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” by Matthew Walker, PhD. With the exception of the author’s lack of focus on God as our creator, the book is incredible and a must-read. It details some of the by-products of sleep deprivation, which can come about from less than seven hours of sleep a night, something probably many of us do not get: a much higher likelihood of cancer, increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, stroke, congestive heart failure, depression, anxiety, suicide, weight gain, car accidents due to falling asleep… to name just a few. The less sleep one gets, the more drastic the consequences to oneself and others. According to the author, sleep is arguably seen as even more important to our overall health than what we eat or how much we exercise.
As we march into 2019 and set our goals for the New Year, may one of yours be to get more sleep, aiming for eight hours of sleep a night. It will not only help you mentally and physically, but it can also help you spiritually, and can make an eternal difference in the lives of those you meet. How? The Bible tells us in Matthew 5:16 to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” When we are sleep deprived, we often say and do things that do not bring glory to God, and which actually repel others from God. Who wants to be around a Christian who is always grumpy, or go to church with them? When we get the sleep we need, we are in a better emotional and physical state, and (lest you believe that getting more sleep will take away from all that you need to accomplish) we can be even more productive, as we are firing on all cylinders. In 2 Corinthians, it notes that we are the “aroma of Christ.” May we send a sweet and pleasant aroma to others, not a rotten, repulsive one. You can do that, and one way is to focus on getting the right amount of sleep this year. Being given permission to get more sleep? That is good news indeed, and will help you spread the Good News!