For a lot of my adult life I have suffered from a lack of sleep. I have tried doing all the right things to correct the problem, but somehow it just never seemed to work. But recently I have been doing better. So what changed for me? I have no idea what is working for me specifically, I just thank God that I am now often able to fall asleep in a more timely manner. For those of us (and there are many) that are sleep challenged, we truly understand what a gift a good night’s rest is.
The sleep studies I have seen all agree that a minimum of 7 hours of sleep is required to function properly – and 8 hours is better.
The mental impairment from four hours or less sleep is just like having no sleep at all.
Can we oversleep? Well, yes, but usually that is a sign of depression unless we are engaged in ‘catch-up’ sleep. Most clinicians agree that we have one week to catch up on lost sleep before the effects take its toll.
What are the effects of being sleep deprived? Aside from the obvious tiredness, we are much more likely to get into car accidents, relational squabbles, make bad decisions at work and at home and generally have reduced productivity.
But from an emotional and spiritual standpoint, the worst part is that we are going to be joy challenged. Life will feel like a heavy burden instead of a great adventure. I will have an attitude of ‘just getting through the day’ rather than looking forward to what the day will bring.
Many people I have encountered have bragged about how little sleep they get and wear it as a badge of honor or strength. I feel sorry for them because I know that they are tearing their bodies down slowly. They will eventually pay the price.
For some, the solution may just be changing lifestyle habits to make room for and begin to value sleep differently. We dumped our TV cable and gained hours of our life back every day. Reducing or eliminating caffeine and alcohol is helpful as well as exercising regularly. For others it may require being intentional in other ways – like talking to a doctor to determine if the problem is physical or a counselor if anxiety related.
For all of us we can adjust some things in our lives to increase the joy factor. I suggest the following:
- Decrease your negative or controversial news intake.
- Connect with people who care about you.
- Listen to uplifting (worship) music.
- Limit time with emotionally draining people.
- Increase time with optimistic and life-giving people.
- Volunteer for something that matters.
- Guard your quiet time if you have any, if not make room for it.