Are We Getting Enough Sleep?


Let us rest and sleep

Sleep an essential rhythm of life for all of us

Tom and I just returned from a trip to the east Coast. Unrepairable planes made what should have been a pleasant 10 hour trip into a 17 hour epic bringing us home around 2am Seattle time or 5 am East Coast time. As you can imagine, yesterday my head felt as though it was stuffed with cotton wool. Everything I did took twice the time I intended and I felt as though my brain had ceased functioning.

Sleep is one of the essential rhythms of life. Many of us resent the 8 hours we need to spend in bed each day but without adequate sleep we soon cease to function properly, without any sleep, a condition that is fortunately fairly rare,  we will soon die. There is even evidence that taking a siesta in the afternoon boosts our memory and cognitive functioning.  There are many causes for sleeplessness from anxiety and depression to serious physical illness. Helpguide.org has some great suggestions for those who struggle regularly with insomnia, including some simple ways to diagnose what may be the underlying cause of the problem.

However, the reason I am writing this article today is because for many of us sleeplessness is more a function of our lifestyle than anything else. Lack of time outside in the sunlight, lack of time in the dark at night, lack of exercise, stress and the inability to relax our minds before we go to bed can all contribute. I am concerned too that many of reach for over the counter or prescription medicines before we even consider how the practices of our faith can help alleviate our symptoms.

So here are some thoughts on how faith practices can help us relax and enter into that sleep which is indeed a gift from God.

So when you’re struggling in the night, remember David’s words, and let God’s peaceful gift of meditation fill your soul with comfort, and your body with rest. read more

There are other Christian practices that can help too.

  • The prayer of examen  which helps us to review the day in the presence of God, encouraging us to leave the cares and worries we have encountered in God’s hands, is a wonderful way to end our waking hours.
  • Breathing prayers which encourage us to breathe deeply and regularly can also be of great value. Evidently many of us spend most of our lives breathing too shallowly and deprive our lungs and other organs of the oxygen we need to remain healthy. And moe than that it can relieve anxiety, stimulate our immune system and even alleviate the symptoms of trauma. Read more
  • Centering prayers  provide a way for all of us to sit in the contentment of the moment, shutting out the noise in order to focus completely on God. This is not a practice that comes easily or naturally to most of us which is probably an indication of the stress that we live under. If you don’t know much about this form of prayer I would heartily recommend Basil Pennington’s classic Centering Prayer to you.
  • Prayer beads are for many a great stress reliever and can be a wonderful way to prepare yourself for sleep. You might like to design your own prayer to say with your beads before you go to retire for the night.

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