Sleep is a natural part of our bodies’ rhythm, a need hard-wired into us by our Creator. Overindulging the need is sinful, but ignoring it is equally so. Last week in “Evangelism and Physical Fitness”, we took a very brief look at what the Bible has to say about the important role that sleep plays in our lives. Far from being a random commandment, God’s concern for our rest has a solid basis in human physiology. Scientists have told us much about the value of sleep in our lives. Here’s a look at just a few of its benefits along with some thoughts on how those benefits help us to be better evangelists!
- Our bodies do much to repair the ravages of the day while we slumber. Muscles damaged by use are knit back together and injuries are healed. The result is that those who get regular, quality sleep heal faster and are more capable of performing the physical tasks necessary for a productive life. This is important to us as “spiritual warriors” because no combatant, no matter how skilled, is able to fight a battle that they don’t have the energy to show up for!
- Our bodies and minds are deeply interconnected, so it should come as no surprise that what influences one often times influences the other – and sleep is no exception. It is during sleep that memories from the preceding day are consolidated. This helps us to better recall information when it’s time to take a test or put a new skill into practice. The value of this should be evident. Those who wish to find success in school, the workplace, or as evangelists, need to be able to remember and use what they have learned.
- Sleep decreases irritability. People who receive sufficient rest are more capable of viewing situations in a logical fashion and have shown an increased ability to control their physical responses. (Indeed, it appears that driving tired may be far more dangerous than driving drunk! Now imagine going through an entire day like this!) The result is that more rest generally equals less erratic action both physically and emotionally. The end product is an improvement not only in the quality of our work, but also in the quality of our relationships – something of vital importance to the evangelist. After all, what good is sharing the Gospel if our lives don’t reflect the patience and love of Christ?
- Sleep improves our ability to pay attention to what happens around us when we are awake. We are more likely to notice details and recognize potential dangers in advance. The result is that we remember more of what we see or study. As Christian warriors, this attention to detail is vital to our ability to recognize opportunities to share the Good News of the Gospel with others. It also increases our ability to learn from each experience.
- Sleep spurs our creative problem-solving abilities. This means that we’re less likely to commit the “insanity” of trying the same thing over and over, expecting different results each time. It also means that we’re more likely to think of new and more efficient ways to accomplish the tasks at hand – whether those tasks involve creating a better model for customer service, developing a more efficient robotic hand, or finding the most appropriate way to address a skeptic’s questions.
Obviously, the benefits of sufficient sleep are enormous! So what should you do if you aren’t getting enough sleep? We’ll take a look at some solutions next week. Meanwhile, feel free to share your own experiences with sleep enhanced/deprived evangelism in the comment box below!