Proper Rest

Have you ever wondered why people sleep? We sleep because we are tired, yes, but you may be surprised to learn that scientists still do not know why we humans, and just about every other living creature, sleep. They believe it benefits the brain, conserves energy, and allows our bodies to heal from the things we do to them while awake, but they are still not certain.

While scientists are up worrying about why we sleep, it is probably a good idea to get some rest ourselves. Adolescents need about 9.25 hours of sleep, but most get roughly two hours less than that. Sustained lack of sleep can have devastating effects.

A prolonged lack of sleep in students can lead to an inability to concentrate, poor grades, anxiety, and weight gain. It can be a contributing factor to substance use and abuse, depression, and suicidal thoughts and behavior. But lack of sleep affects more than just our bodies; it also affects our spiritual lives. When we are sleep-deprived, we are more likely to make poor decisions (especially when driving). Our ability to resist temptation is compromised as well.

What can we do to get the rest we so desperately need? Here are a few tips to get better sleep:

  1. Set specific times each day when you will go to sleep and wake up. Stick to this schedule and your body will naturally begin to wind down and wake up almost on its own.
  2. Turn off all electronic devices. The light emanating from them inhibits sleep.
  3. Begin your bedtime preparation with worship and prayer. Don’t wait until you are barely able to keep your eyes open. Take time to recount all that God has done for you that day, and seek His forgiveness for any sins committed. A clear conscience will help you sleep much better (Rom. 12:1-2).
  4. Get as much natural sunlight as possible during the day.
  5. Avoid caffeinated drinks and big meals close to bedtime. These keep the body awake as it tries to dissipate them.

That said, no matter how much physical rest we get each night, there is a rest that is even more important. Jesus offers it in Matthew 11:28-29: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (NRSV).

God wants us to experience both physical rest, which leads to good health, and spiritual rest, which brings peace of mind.