I’m an achievement oriented person which means I don’t feel good about myself unless I’m accomplishing things. It’s a sickness, I know, but God is helping me deal with it. That’s one of the reasons Sabbath is so important. (In case you didn’t know, I wrote a book about it.)
Therefore I’m always trying to cram more into the day: just one more chore, one more email, one more blog post. I reached a point where I found myself staying up later and later and getting up earlier and earlier.
But I came to a profound realization that totally changed my outlook on sleep.
One morning went just as planned.
The night before, I got everything done I wanted to get done. I got up at the time I wanted to get up.
I commit to quiet time with God first thing in the morning (when possible). So after waking up I began reading the Word. Next thing I know, I'm nodding off.
I got up, poured another cup of coffee and started reading again.
And I started falling asleep again too.
I knew prayer would be totally out of the question. I’d pull a Gethsemane on Jesus if I even tried.
The problem was that I had only slept 5 or 6 hours the night before. That might be sustainable for one or two nights, but over time it's an impossible regimen.
So it was at that point that I discovered a compelling reason to get more sleep.
If I was unable to spend time in the Word and talk to God, what was the point of all the other stuff I was able to get done?
I was robbing God of my best, essentially trying to inherit the earth at the expense of my soul. Rookie mistake.
Now I try very hard (not always successfully) to get at least seven hours of sleep. Although I could use more, that’s the bare minimum required for me to be able to read the Bible and talk to God with the amount of focus and intentionality such tasks merit.
How to Tell If You're Getting Enough Sleep
I like to use the reading test as a barometer: if you can’t read and comprehend a page of text without falling asleep, then you’re not getting the rest you need.
Even if you don’t spend time daily with God (although I highly recommend it), if you can’t pass the reading test then other areas of your life are suffering too:
You’re robbing yourself of your best creativity.
Your family suffers because it doesn’t get your best attention.
You become lazy.
So although you might get more time by sleeping less, the quality of that time will decrease drastically.
Being intentional about sleep is hard for me to do, but when I think about how my time spent with God and my family suffers, it becomes so much easier to turn off the light and lay my head down to sleep.
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