A few years ago, I read a really good book on discipleship and spiritual formation by John Ortberg: The Life You’ve Always Wanted – Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People. It’s a great book, IMO because it’s written in such accessible, everyday language and offers such practical advice for living a life of freedom in Christ.
One of the ideas that has stuck with me in the months since I read the book, and that keeps being re-presented to me in my life circumstances, is the spiritual importance of getting proper sleep. Ortberg writes, quite accurately, that being kind and generous to others requires a tremendous amount of energy. You simply can’t do it consistently if you’re tired and cranky from habitually not getting enough sleep. “At any given time, the most spiritual thing you could do might well be to take a nap,” he says (I’ve rewritten it here from my highly imperfect memory, so that might not be the exact wording, but it’s substantially correct.)
He’s absolutely right, of course. Most of the time, when I’m short and snippy with people, or lose patience with the kids, or otherwise act in a less-than-exemplary fashion, it’s mostly because I feel exhausted and a bit like an overtired toddler. I love my overstuffed life, because it’s overstuffed with good stuff: great friends, a challenging job I love, an awesome family, and lots of interests. But like a lot of adults my age, I’ve fallen prey to a childish desire to try and add more hours to my day by habitually shorting my sleep cycle. I like the person I am when I’m rested a lot better than the person I am when I’m not.
For the last three weeks, I’ve tried to commit to getting to bed at a reasonable hour, and failed. So I’m going to ask my reader friends for some help keeping me accountable. For the month of October, my goal is to get no less than 7 hours sleep a night. I’ve determined that 7 to 7.5 hours is the ideal amount of sleep for me (I actually don’t do well with too much sleep, either–I get groggy.)
At the end of the month, I’ll post a report here of how well I did, and what I learned from trying to get proper sleep. I also invite any of my reader friends who also feel like more sleep might improve their overall quality of life to jump into the challenge. If you have any blazing insights from the experience to share, feel free to email them to me at coffeecupkat [at] gmail dot com, and with your kind permission I’ll post them. 🙂
Good luck, and sweet dreams!