It is no secret that most Americans do not get enough sleep. We know that sleep is vital to our health, mood, and general ability to function, yet when life gets stressful, sleep is often the first thing to go. Sometimes this is for reasons beyond our control. Most people who have had a baby have had to cope with going through life in a sleep-deprived haze at least for a while. There are times when hormones make sleep a near impossibility, or when the huge amount of things weighing on one’s mind forces one to toss and turn despite one’s best efforts. There are many times, however, when there is no reason for us not getting enough sleep other than we simply choose not to.
We make other things more of a priority. I have heard very busy women say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” I can sympathize. There does always seem to be more to get done in a given day than hours in that day! As Joan C. Webb writes in “It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life” our inner voice tells us “If I go to sleep, I’ll be wasting time. I should make good use of each minute. . . Your value depends on how well you spend each second. Stay busy. Don’t waste any precious moments. Keep an account of every hour.” I’m sure many of you reading this are nodding in agreement. Especially for mothers who spend so much of their time caring for others, it can seem like those late-night or early-morning hours are the only opportunity to get the other tasks done or to get some much-needed time to care for oneself.
The irony is that getting enough sleep each night will allow us to take care of both ourselves and those we love better. If we can’t get enough sleep at night, it means that something is out of whack in our lives. We need to reduce how much we have on our plates or we need to get a little bit better at asking for help. Maybe we need to simply reduce our expectations of what it means to be a productive person. Webb offers a new mantra to replace the inner voice that keeps driving us to do more: “I’m valuable even when I’m not busy. I can go to sleep at a sensible hour and still be a productive person.” She refers to a quote by from “The Rest of God” by Mark Buchanon, “We give ourselves, regardless of our unfinished business, into God’s care. We sleep simply because we believe God will look after us.” That is so comforting. Yes, God does look after us even when we are sleeping. God wants us to rest in Him and to trust that whatever we do get accomplished in the hours we are awake is enough and is pleasing to Him.
If you are one of the many suffering from a lack of sleep, try going to bed just 15 minutes earlier each night. It is a small step, but it can make a huge difference. Once that becomes comfortable, add another 15 minutes. These simple adjustments can help improve one’s outlook tremendously and help one be more productive with the time one does have during the day.
– Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur