By Ashlyn Jackson, Crosswalk.com
There’re a million choices to make in life. What to eat, where to live, where to work, etc. The options are endless. But there is one thing we have no choice in. Sleeping.
We all know that enough sleep is something we should get, but life is demanding. It helps to be reminded of great reasons, both physical and spiritual, why enough sleep is part of God's design for ourselves and our family.
What happens when we don't get enough sleep? From the lower spectrum, we tend to be groggy and much more irritable. But on the more extreme end of the spectrum, suicide, depression, bipolar disorder are also major effects of prolonged lack of sleep. We’re now understanding why a lack of sleep produces disease and lack of health within the body.
Today there is a feverish push to work, hustle, be constantly moving and sleep less. Why? Some believe sleep holds a negative connotation of laziness. In reality, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In actuality, rest is biblical.
In the Bible, the word “rest” is mentioned all over the place, with over 70 verses all about restoration. These holds meaning of both spiritual and physical rest. The spiritual rest pertains to the peace that interrupts your busyness when you allow God to take over. This type of rest is stepping away from the anxiety and worry that everyday life can bring. A re-focus that gives your perspective of what is truly important.
But there is also massive importance emphasized in physical rest. Physical rest is the flip side to that coin, the partner to this dynamic duo. You need both.
To emphasize the importance and give you perspective on what you're gaining both physically and spiritually, here are 8 reasons you should prioritize sleep for your family. Now some of these are straight forward, we have heard them repeated and it’s obvious their necessity in living a healthy lifestyle.
However, there are a few I want to dive into and give you a better understanding of why this is so important for you and your family.
First, I'll give 5 physical reasons:
1. Improved Focus and Concentration
Because who can get anything done when your mind is bouncing in several directions? Sleep aids in allowing our minds to slow down and focus on one single task at a time. A good tip, if you notice your mind seems to run like crazy before bed or throughout the day, do a brain dump.
A brain dump basically requires you take out a physical piece of paper and write out everything you are thinking about. This can be a checklist or just a. Short slurs or full sentences will work, but get it out of your mind and onto paper. This is the most effective usually right before we go to bed or right when we wake up in the morning.
2. High-Quality and Valuable Work
Have you ever noticed when you’re tired you can’t seem to function at your optimum level? Be it physically or mentally, you do not work well when you’re tired. For your best quality output, you need that deep sleep where your body is allowed to reconnect and release a variety of hormones and chemicals to help you perform at your optimum level.
3. The Body Gets a Refresh
If you’re not getting sufficient amounts of sleep, you are missing out on many regulatory functions that are provided during those hours. To list a few:
- Your blood glucose levels are regulated. Lack of sleep, even by a few hours, can lead to prediabetes.
- Your insulin levels are regulated
- Your reproductive system. In both males and females, it was found that a lack of sleep led to significantly lower reproductive hormones being produced
- Your hormones that control appetite (leptin and ghrelin), weight and food consumption are regulated. Also, you actually tend to choose the worst foods when you’re tired, reaching for those fatty/heavy foods to satisfy you.
4. Learning and Memory Gets Overhauled
Essentially like hitting the “save “button, sleep allows all you have learned throughout your day to be transferred from short term to long term memory. Sleep helps you to remember because it’s defining those memories into long term storage. It also clears out your short-term memory.
So, when you wake up every morning you’re able to start fresh and have a whole new capacity to acquire new knowledge.
5. Your Sleep and Your Emotions
The amygdala, which controls your “fight or flight” responses, emotional behaviors and such is regulated by the prefrontal cortex. (Stay with me, I’m going somewhere with this).
The prefrontal cortex acts as the commander of the brain. It’s where the major control decisions are made. What happens when we sleep is; apart of your frontal cortex is able to access the deepest parts of our brain, all the way to our amygdala. And it regulates it!
It’s like putting the brakes on your emotional treadmill. However, when we don’t obtain enough sleep it’s like cutting straight through that connection. Another big reason why we should never make decisions when we are tired. Science shows we aren’t making the wisest choices.
We are then making almost completely emotional decisions with no input from our commanding decision-maker, the prefrontal cortex.
Now that we've been reminded, or learned new reasons, why sleep is so important for our physical health, let's look at 3 reasons why sleep is important for our spiritual health as well (because, big shock, they are intimately related! If you’re hurting one, you are most certainly hurting the other--and vice versa).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Vasyl Dolmatov
1. Learning from Our Bodies
From all the reasons listed above pertaining to our physical needs, God created those. God, right there, is giving us example after example, reasons of why he does not want us to be nonstop all the time.
There is a reason why he created a “breaking point” at the end of every day. That point is where we sleep. And so much happens during that time!
God doesn’t make accidents, but he does make purposeful events. The purpose of you sleeping is a reconnection. The purpose of rest has a grounding effect. If you aren’t prioritizing sleep, you are physically going against God’s creation. And the effects are just like any other time we go against God--disastrous!
2. The Sabbath Is Important to God
According to Exodus 20:8-10, the Sabbath is the 7th or last day of the week. Not even three whole chapters into the Bible and a day of rest is included.
Genesis 2:2 tells us that even the Lord himself stopped. Even he thought it wise to step back and observe, appreciate and refocus.
So why do we take it as a sign of laziness? Although the Sabbath doesn’t speak directly over the topic of sleep the implication is more than clear. We need rest for our bodies and minds.
3. You Are More Likely to Lie, Cheat and Steal When You’re Sleepy
Your moral compass needs sleep to function properly. This connects with the example pertaining to your emotions and your brain function.
When you let fatigue take over you are defaulting to systems that were not made to carry the weight bring load of your decisions. The less sleep you have leads to your compromising your moral capacity. Studies have shown when you allow sleep to escape you and it becomes a repeated process that problem compounds.
Trust God Enough to Rest
Genesis starts off with this beautiful depiction of God and how he creates the earth. It details what he starts with and adds in it’s all about the original creation.
And then it comes to an end with rest.
It’s the closing statement of God’s beautiful promise that he’s going to finish whatever he’s started. Rest peacefully in knowing that his promise still stands.
Ashlyn Jackson is a civil engineer and active blogger. You can read more on faith, personal finance and career advice from Ashlyn at Dear Young Professional.com.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Wavebreakmedia