Saturday, January 3, 2009

Got Sleep? The Physical and Spiritual Benefits of Sleep

The following notes are from my Friends Student Conference 2008 workshop.

Got Sleep? The Physical and Spiritual Benefits of Sleep FSC '08
Are you constantly tired? Do you have irregular sleep patterns? Getting a good night’s rest can make your life better all around. Come here about some of the latest news in sleep research and how sleep can actually be an important “spiritual discipline”. This workshop will provide a powerful case for the need to take sleep seriously.

*Much of the information and scientific research presented in this workshop comes from Paul Martin’s extensive sleep research book Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams.

“…Samuel was sleeping…Suddenly, the LORD called out, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ 1 Samuel 3
“Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion…” Mark 4:38
-The Bible if filled with stories of people who heard God’s voice in their sleep: Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and Samuel, Joseph, Saul/Paul, etc.
–maybe there’s something to the fact that Samuel heard God’s voice when he was asleep? Chronically tired people must have a much more difficult hearing (and obeying) God’s voice.

-life is hard and complex and busy and can be filled with stress and chaos. Many things are out of your control and there’s simply nothing you can do about them but learn to respond with gratitude and trust. But there are a few things you can do that are within your realm of influence and decision making that can make your life drastically better and less complex (and significantly decrease the stress and chaos of your life).

–These are tools that help us to do what we can so we can do our best with the things we can’t. How you eat (diet), how you rest from work on a regular pattern (Sabbath), how you sweat/play/workout (exercise), and how you SLEEP are ways to make your life more balanced, less stressed and in a steady pattern! Imagine your life with… balance? With margin? (These things help us to obey God better!)

-THE SLEEP CHALLENGE- about 7 months ago I was challenged at a spiritual retreat to sleep better (and then I started researching the science of sleep as well). It has made such a difference in my life! For the first time in my life-the past 7 months-I have gotten enough regular sleep – and my body thrives on and this has helped my attitude, mindset, outlook on life, perspective, sense of humor (even better!) and my work proficiency, and all around made my life better (which all ultimately helps me to be in the right place to where it’s easier to obey God – which is the definition of a “spiritual discipline”. Imagine that! – sleep a spiritual discipline.).

-your making a big mistake if you think you can separate your spiritual life from the rest of your life – from your body - they’re 100% connected and inseparable! When’s ones a mess so is the other. (Separating body and spirit is one of the oldest heresies in the book, of course!)

-the average teenager needs 9.5 hours of sleep/night because chemicals related to growth are released during sleep (athletes beware!); therefore teenagers require more sleep than your younger siblings who are only 9-10 years old who need around 8
-irregular sleep patterns negatively impact the quality of your sleep
-sleep is food for the brain
-skipping sleep affects your life: your attitude, your looks (skin, weight), your health (immune system), safety (car accidents), etc.
-1/2 of all students sleep 7 hours or less
-1 in 5 regularly gets less then 6 hours of sleep per night
-only 15% of teenagers get the at least 8.5 hours of sleep that they need on school nights
-being tired is scientifically proven to make us stupid and reckless
-driving while sleep is the equivalent to driving drunk because being sleep blurs our vision and decreases reaction time
-Signs of sleep deprivation:
-Difficulty waking up in the morning (hitting the snooze button) – it doesn’t have to be this
-irritability in the afternoon
-falling asleep during the day
-oversleeping on the weekends
-lack of memory/difficulty concentrating
-moodiness, poor performance in school
-behavior problems
-the gospels are filled with stories of Jesus sleeping and resting
-maybe “napping and sleeping are part of what it means to be a good Christian”

RECOMMENDATIONS for getting a “Good Night’s Rest”
-establish a reasonable bedtime and wake time and make that consistent with weekends too (maybe the hardest thing to do but not impossible)
-establish bedtime routine (self-discipline)
-if you have difficult falling asleep (first, ask yourself: are you sleeping too much? Do you have a pattern? Are you off your pattern?): take a hot bath/shower 30 minutes before falling asleep, do only quiet activities that are not mentally stimulating before trying to fall asleep, starting turning off lights one by one an hour before bed, turn off cell phones!, avoid techology right before wanting to fall asleep.
-eliminate caffeine consumption 7 hours before sleep (the effects stay in your body for 7 hours) –affects your quality of sleep even if you can sleep – makes it less restorative
-keep a sleep log (record sleep times and wake times and state of restfulness for 3 weeks or until you have patterns established)
-sleep experts favor a school day that begins at 9:30 or so but until that’s an option, we have to discipline ourselves!
-give sleep the high priority that it deserves in your life (which is probably higher than it currently is)
-listen to your body: if you feel tired you probably are and need more sleep
-learn to nap efficiently and without feeling guility
-get a good bed (most important piece of furniture in your home?)
-cooler the better for sleeping
-bedroom should be as peaceful as possible – conducive environment for sleeping
-aim to avoid eating large meals just before going to sleep

“Busyness is the enemy of spirituality. It is essentially laziness. It is doing the easy thing instead of the hard thing. It is filling our time with our own actions instead of paying attention to God’s actions. It is taking charge.” Eugene Peterson, Subversive Spirituality

“Fatigue makes women talk more and men talk less.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters