“But hold on, don’t give up. Be intentional. Set an alarm to remind you to go to bed, read a book instead of scrolling, take a few deep breaths, pray…” Our #WellnessWednesday blog this week comes from Rev Tim on sleep, how important it is, how much you need and some ideas on ways to sleep better.

Did you know that a giraffe only needs 1.9 hours of sleep a day?

My son starting sleeping through the night when he turned three. The sleep deprivation and exhaustion was unbelievable. I’d fall asleep trying to prepare sermons and I hope I didn’t preach about a strange god of my fatigued imagination during that season.

According to data from Medical Daily, new parents lose an average of 44 days of sleep per year from their beautiful, sleepless new-borns so it’s not surprising that I felt tired missing those 132 days.

Lack of sleep has a huge effect on your day and how people experience you. When we are tired it effects our emotions (we get worried, stressed, easily irritated, anxious); our thoughts (we struggle making decisions, it’s not easy to concentrate or focus on what we need to do); our behaviour (how do you behave when you feel tired?) and our body (we simply feel worn out). According to a sleep study, “Inadequate sleep exerts a similar influence on our brain as drinking too much.”

And the opposite is true too. When we are well rested we feel energized, it’s easier to focus at work, we’re not easily irritated, and we don’t have as much road rage.

Clever people study sleep and its complex. Insomnia is not a joke. Different people seem to need (or choose) different amounts of sleep. Since this is just a brief thought, let me remind you of some common facts:

How much sleep do I need?

Preschool3-5 years old10-13 hours
School-age6-13 years old9-11 hours
Teen14-17 years old8-10 hours
Young Adult18-25 years old7-9 hours
Adult26-64 years old7-9 hours
Older Adult65 or more years old7-8 hours
(Source: sleepfoundation.org)

There are dozens of tips to help us sleep better:

  • Buy a good mattress and pillow.
  • Darken your room.
  • Cut down on caffeine (especially after 4pm).
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time.
  • Limit screen time before bed.
  • Don’t work in bed.
  • Do some exercise during the day.

…and the list goes on.

I’m pretty sure that everything you’ve read is not news to you (except maybe the lack of sleep for new parents), but if there is one takeaway from your time invested in reading this, here it is (okay, two points):

(1) Value sleep.

Perform, produce, play! We’re an ‘always on’ world. Go, go, go! We choose to stop and rest or our bodies choose for us. We are designed to rest. Somehow we miss the fact that we perform, produce and play better when we are rested.

(2) Your day begins at sunset.

We wake up and think the day has begun! But how you feel and perform today, depends on how well rested you are from last night. In Jewish thought, the day began at sunset, not at sunrise. How would your life change with a shift in thinking that the day ends and a new day begins as you have supper and prepare for the night?

Perhaps, like me, you’ve tried all these things and you’re still not sleeping well at times. Maybe you need to see a doctor or maybe things are stressful in your life at the moment.

But hold on, don’t give up.

Be intentional.

Set an alarm to remind you to go to bed, read a book instead of scrolling, take a few deep breaths, pray.

If you’re a Christian, try giving thanks for the day and being still in God’s presence. May you and I choose to live and lead out of a place of rest. We are not giraffes.