I'm going to talk about something we all need...REST, in particular, sleep.
There must be a balance between the various activities we engage in. Work and leisure must both be given space in our schedules or we can lose the edge in performance. Failure to have enough to keep one busy can lead to idleness, laziness, and depression. Not having enough time to rest, recreate, and reflect can leave one with the "law of diminishing returns" in that you end up working harder but achieving less and then crash into an unhealthy burned out state.
Doctors are still learning much from the study of sleep. This mysterious unconscious state, though found in the animal kingdom, is of much greater importance in human beings. Failure to get enough sleep can lead to any number of psychological disorders and, in extreme cases, can lead to early death! It has always fascinated me that we are designed to lapse into a virtual comatose state for one third of each 24 hour day! Either too much or too little sleep can be bad for one's sense of well being. Taking rest in sleep is so very important that we should learn how to get the benefits God intends for it to provide.
The Bible teaches us some things about sleep. There are examples of people who went through experiences that robbed them of their sleep. There are instances where some purposefully stayed awake in order to pray and strengthen their walk with God. There are also some verses that teach us the secrets to getting a good night's sleep.
Here are some helps taken from scripture:
1. Perform some good, honest, physical work. (Physical exercise has many other benefits also) Ecc. 5:12 "The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep."
2. Develop Trust in God (avoid worry) Psa 4:8 “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.”
Pro 3:24 "When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet."
Along with these two good spiritual lessons about sleep, there are some good common sense tips about how to get the benefit of sleep as well as make to most out of the day.
• Sleep only when sleepy. This reduces the time you are awake in bed.
• If you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something boring until you feel sleepy. I have some sermons on tape that might help. :-)
• Don't take naps. This will ensure you are tired at bedtime. If you just can't make it through the day without a nap, take a very short one but not after 3:00 P.M.
• If possible, get up and go to bed the same time every day. Your body works better with a consistent routine.
• Refrain from strenuous exercise at least 4 hours before bedtime.
• Develop sleep rituals. Listen to music, read, have a cup of caffeine free tea, do relaxing exercises.
• Don't stay in your bed for waking activities. Associate the bed with sleep.
• Stay away from caffeine at least 4-6 hours before bed.
• Have a light snack before bedtime.
• Take a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime.
• Make sure your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable. Cooler temp is better for good sleep.
Remember, you can have too much of a good thing. Sometimes the key to good sleep is to sleep less each night than the suggested "full eight hours". Also, getting up early even on days off, rather than sleeping in and throwing ones body off cycle, may help avoid those frustrating times when it's bedtime and you just can't seem to get sleepy.
Finally, the best way I know to insure a good night's sleep is to fill the day with good works and a clear conscience. Spiritual disciplines have many practical benefits that we can enjoy now and not have to wait for eternity!
"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve." Albert Schweitzer
"A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming." Ralph Waldo Emerson
"I can think of nothing less pleasurable than a life devoted to pleasure." John D. Rockefeller
"Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the attacker; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; but urge me not to use moderation." William Lloyd Garrison