Last week in “Sleep and Evangelism”, we took a look at a few of the medical benefits to sleep and how it affects our daily lives (including our ability to effectively share the Gospel with those around us). We discussed the role it plays in healing our bodies, spurring creativity, and improving our memories. Clearly, God had a purpose when He created sleep. So what do we do if we aren’t getting enough? Here are some good ideas:
- Take a good look at your schedule. If your day is packed from dawn to dusk or filled with tasks that keep you awake until different times each night, you’ve likely found the reason for your restlessness. Prayerfully consider which activities are really important… then let the rest go. Remember that there is a time and a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8), so even if you have to let an opportunity fall by the wayside now, it doesn’t mean that it will remain there forever. If reducing your workload isn’t possible, try creating a sleep schedule that will at least help you get to bed at the same time each night. Just adding a dependable rhythm to your slumber can make a huge difference in its quality!
- Put the electronics away. Studies show that the light emitted by devices like laptops, iPods, and television sets actually prevents our bodies from emitting the hormone melatonin… which helps us fall asleep. Try putting these devices away an hour before bed. Then use the spare time for ritual pre-bed tasks like reading a devotional or brushing your teeth.
- Eat right and don’t eat late. While going to bed hungry isn’t good, neither is going to bed too full. Try making dinner your last opportunity to eat each day. And don’t only make it your last meal, make it a healthy one. You may be surprised at how much your diet and eating habits impact your slumber!
- Exercise. Even a little conscientious stretching can set the rhythm necessary for a good night’s sleep. Before you panic about needing to pump iron before bed, however, take a look at the National Sleep Institute’s 2013 poll. Participants indicated that restful nights weren’t dependent on when during the day they worked out, just that they did! A simple decision to take the stairs instead of the elevator or ride your bike instead of catching the bus can make a big difference.
- Count sheep… or better yet, say your prayers. While it might sound disrespectful at first, prayer can play a vital role in taking our minds off the concerns that plagued us during the day, placing our focus back on God… exactly where it belongs! This helps to shut down the ever-turning wheels of our brains, allowing us to relax and get the sleep we so desperately need.
These, of course, are only a few suggestions. If you’d like a few more, take a look at the articles footnoted in this post. You’re sure to find some great ideas that will set you on the path to getting the sleep you need if you’re going to live a life that brings glory to God!