Sleep Deprivation

Renowned psychiatrist Dr. Archibald Hart says many people’s personality faults, anger and anxiety, can be reduced or even eliminated by getting more sleep on a regular basis. He recommends going to bed 15 minutes earlier every night for a week; then 30 minutes; then 45; and finally an hour earlier (or more, if you need it).

As I talk to girlfriends my age, I’m somewhat surprised at how many of us have difficulty sleeping–some wake up during the night and have trouble falling back asleep for several hours. Some wake early in the morning and are awake, albeit dragging, later in the day. Others, like me, don’t fall asleep for hours after getting into bed.

I’ve tried many different possible remedies and am hopeful that I’ve found one that works for me. However, I’ve resonated with Dr. Hart’s insights about the importance of sleep in our lives.

When I’m tired I need to put more of a guard on my tongue so as not to snap at those I love, drag around looking at the floor, thinking of all the things I need to do and don’t want to begin.

Once I get some rest I’m perkier, more loving to Don and accepting of myself, and have increased patience for others’ needs and concerns.

I’ve found it’s better to go to bed earlier rather than sleep later in the morning. The earlier rest is more refreshing because I’m not so fatigued when I first nod off.

When I can’t sleep I do one of a number of things:

  • Pray
  • Read
  • Eat (that’s a bad one!)
  • Watch TV, or
  • Focus on my work-in-progress novel.

My hubby is a great sleeper who falls asleep within three minutes of when his head hits the pillow. While he slumbers through my nocturnal wakings (someone has to, right?), our dog Paige is my little midnight buddy. If I get out of bed she invariably wakens within 20 minutes to find me gone. I’ll hear the patter of little paws and sure enough, my pal has come to keep me company. I must admit sometimes she looks at me like “what are you doing up and Puh-leeze, can we go back to bed?”

So are you sleep deprived? How is that affecting your work, your attitude, your joy, your relationships? How do you deal with the effects of this deprivation? What can you do to change either the circumstances or yourself?

When you face a physical, emotional or spiritual crisis, sometimes the first and best thing to do is sleep. Release your cares to God, who has promised to care for you. Allow your mind to clear, your body and spirit to be refreshed so you can face the challenges before you. So often I feel like I have to finish everything on my to-do list, meet whatever challenges are in my path, and do it on my own. And yet my Father says:

“It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.”

Psalm 127:2

This week I resolve to focus more on bringing him into everything I do and need, and allow him to give me rest, knowing I am one of his beloved.

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