A godly Bible teacher was asked what helped him most to walk in the Spirit. Of course, he studied God’s Word and met with the Lord daily. But his surprising reply to the question was this: “Getting eight hours of sleep each night.”
Sleep does indeed have a profound effect on every aspect of our being—physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual. Sleep is the body’s most basic and extensive attempt at relaxation and renewal. Stress often causes a lack of good sleep. Ironically, a lack of good sleep will inevitably cause stress.
It’s easy to stay up late tonight, but tomorrow we, and those around us, will pay the price in the form of fatigue and irritability. Often the key to the quality with which we experience today is what we did last night and how late we did it. Put two or three busy nights with six hours of sleep together and we’re deep in debt, trying to spend energy we don’t have.
It’s a simple matter of mathematics. If I need eight hours of sleep and I must get up at 6:30 in the morning, then I need to be asleep at 10:30. Not heading for bed at 10:30, but asleep at 10:30, which probably means I should try to be in bed by 10:00.
But for many, insomnia can be maddening. Here are a number of suggestions that Nanci and I and others have found helpful—perhaps you will, too.
1. Get a good mattress.
We will spend one-third of our lives in bed. Isn’t it worth having a good one? Especially since the quality of that one-third will dramatically affect the other two-thirds. Many of us sleep better in a larger bed.
2. Watch the room temperature and the ventilation.
Too hot or too cold means sleeplessness or restless sleep. Adding or subtracting covers or adjusting an electric blanket may be enough to make the difference.
Some people need fresh air to sleep, so they crack the window even in winter. Try it. If the air is too dry for you, get a humidifier.
3. Minimize distractions.
Do street lights and traffic noise disturb you? Perhaps you can move into a bedroom at another end of the house. Try blackout shades to keep out light. I regularly sleep with earplugs, and have a sleeping mask beside the bed to cover my eyes in early morning.
4. Relax before you get into bed.
Many poor sleepers instinctively tighten up when they get into bed, ready for the big fight for sleep, which they invariably lose. Instead of trying to relax once in bed, relax before you get there. Take a walk—get some fresh air. Take a warm bath to reduce your tension. Drink warm milk—it contains a natural tranquilizer.