My good friend and mentor, Claudia, often says, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.” In a season of hustle and bustle, this seems an appropriate topic to explore.
As each year ticks by, America is increasing in the number of individuals suffering from sleep deprivation. As adults, most of us know we should be getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night. That goal seems harder and harder to achieve for some. Researchers are discovering more and more ailments that relate to lack of sleep. Even Alzheimer’s in some cases has been linked to not getting enough zzz’s at night.
National Geographic published an article recently about this situation. Sleep helps improve our memories, helps us control our emotions, increases our physical capabilities, and ultimately helps the brain repair itself while our bodies are in a restful state.
On the other hand, without sleep, we can develop diabetes, gain weight, have heart or blood pressure problems, and drastically impair our immune system, among a host of other potential problems. And, if you’ve ever had a newborn, you know just how beastly lack of proper rest can make you feel.
We met with our small group of friends the other night and one of the topics we discussed was the inability to get everything done in a day that we “should” get done. Families with two full-time working parents struggle to exercise, eat right, take care of their homes properly, spend time with their family, get alone time, AND give time to God. Sleep often ends up low on the priority list.
When Jason was first diagnosed with leukemia, one of the things his oncologist stressed was the idea of getting enough sleep. She said that while exercise and eating healthy would greatly benefit him, the single best thing he could do to help ward off the progression of his cancer would be to get sufficient rest.
Our culture pushes productivity and advancement. Recently, I even read an article about childcare facilities in New York that are now a 24 hour a day service. No more daycare…drop your kid off at 11:00 p.m. to spend the night and go work your graveyard shift.Ugh.
The story Claudia always uses to illustrate her point is the story of Elijah found in 1 Kings 19. He had just wrapped up some rather intensive duties as a prophet and had a price on his head placed there by Queen Jezebel. He booked it to the wilderness to escape an otherwise terrible fate. Physically and emotionally exhausted, he found a broom bush and quickly fell asleep by it. An angel appeared to him, and encouraged him to eat a cake of bread and drink some water. After doing so, he fell back asleep. The angel reappeared with more food, and after eating he was able to continue on his journey.
From this brief scenario, we see the importance of rest and refreshment. Shoot, even prophets of the living God needed a pick me up once in awhile. Elijah was soul weary. His brief respite gave him what he needed to press forward.
As you spend the next several days shopping, wrapping, baking, and celebrating, remember one of the best ways to celebrate Jesus’ birth might just be to get some shut-eye. If you are the parents of small children, see if you can tag team it over the weekend so you can get an extra snooze. Even a short rest can help you refocus and gain some much needed energy.
Instead of turning into the Grinch this Christmas, give Jesus his proper respect by taking care of your soul.
How are you doing in the sleep department? What are your challenges? What works for you?
Here are a couple of articles about how to get more/better rest, if you are interested.
Photo from freeimages.com