Sleep helps us recover, reset, relax and is essential to our survival and physical well-being. We don’t often think of it, but sleep can have a profound impact on our spiritual health.
When the body is exhausted, it is at its most vulnerable.
Lack of sleep can make it more difficult to fight off illness, slows muscle recovery, inhibits information retention and can reduce attention span and learning capacity.
Sleep deprivation is used as a method to extract information. Being overly tired reduces your resistance to the stress of external pressures and makes you more susceptible to deception and temptation.
How often, if ever, do we consider it an important spiritual discipline that impacts not only ourselves but others as well?
“Sleep deprivation lowers your ability to reason well,” Philip Collins, professor of Christian ministries said. “We need to think straight on what is real and right. It’s definitely connected with temptation”
The second greatest commandment dictates that we love our neighbor as ourselves. If we are constantly groggy, we’re more likely to be cranky and impatient with those around us. Being mentally present and focused can be a tremendous help to our self-control.
“We are designed to rest. It’s very important for learning. If you sleep well, you remember better, you learn better and that has to do with our spiritual lives. We can trust God with shutting down for a while,” Collins said.
Our need for sleep humbles us. It is a reminder that there is a distinction between creation and creator.
“When students are doubting God and their relationship with God, I ask if they’re doing physically well,” Collins said.
Regardless of where you stand on what the Sabbath is and how you’re supposed to practice it, it is undeniable that the principle of rest still applies for us.
In Mark chapter two Jesus declares, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
For many of us, what we need isn't a supernatural shot of caffeine or adrenaline to push through the day, but rather some much needed sleep.
Fortunately, God has provided us with a way to prepare for the day ahead.
“Anything that is taking care of your body is a form of worship, it’s a form of stewardship. Sleep affects our brain power, memory, hormones, mood, it affects our quality of life,” said sophomore exercise science major, Erikson Jones.
Oftentimes the issue isn’t having the willpower to get up in the morning but going to bed on time.
Having a disciplined sleep schedule can go a long way when it comes to abiding by the
command in Ephesians to “bear with one another in love; be humble, meek and patient in every way with one another.”
“We tend to be gnostic about our faith, mind and body split,” Collins said.
We often separate the mind from the body and neglect to grasp how they are fundamentally intertwined. Understanding the connection can help us better practice our faith.
Realizing that the spiritual impacts the physical and vice versa should encourage us to treat them both with a sense of urgency. When one suffers, the other inevitably will as well.
“Our ability to be good stewards of our body is directly impacted by our sleep. Getting adequate sleep gives us an increased opportunity to maximize our ability to properly steward the gifts that we’ve been given,” Jones said.
This can also be an opportunity for us. The next time you’re tempted to pull that all-nighter,
hang out with friends until 3 a.m. on a Tuesday, or stay up watching Netflix,
think of how it will impact your week and your relationships with those around you.
Before meeting your breaking point, perhaps take a moment to step back and think about the importance of getting some good old-fashioned sleep.