I love sleep
It’s like a factory reset button. All the day’s input clogs up my operating system. Input, input, input. By evening my battery is drained and I'm running slow from everything I’ve downloaded and processed all day. Sleep clears my cache and cleans up my files so when I wake I’m refreshed — no lingering pages from yesterday slowing down my efforts to move forward.
I honor sleep so much that it’s one of my core values. I make decisions based on whether the choice will interrupt or disrupt my sleeping patterns. I book flights that don’t force me to rise early and run out the door. I am careful about what I say yes to because I know what it’s like to live exhausted.
Sleep is not a necessary evil for me — it’s a blessed ritual.
Sleep is God’s gift to us
I am reminded of the scripture in Lamentations that God’s mercies are new every morning. Sleep embodies this promise. It’s a mini-sabbath every day, and He’s ensured that we will (must) take it. Sleep is the level playing field for all humans — no one is above the need for sleep, no matter how rich or powerful or important one might be.
The need for sleep reduces us all to dependent creatures in need of a new start and refilling of strength each day.
I think one must be deprived of it for extended periods of time in order to value sleep. The first year of my son’s life was wrought with illness, hospital stays, and sleepless nights. My husband and I were beyond the walking dead of the average parent of a newborn. We were stretched to a point of exhaustion. The thought of another baby — after knowing what could go wrong — was enough to make us talk of vasectomies and how we would raise an only child.
Three years later, after our life had settled down some and sleep had become a more regular part of our lives, we took the risk again and became parents for the second time. As a cry of redemption, I asked God for a “normal” baby — one who nursed without crying and could sleep without pain. His gift to me was a baby who slept through the night at five weeks and never looked back.
Each morning I awoke from a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep I would thank God that all my people were healthy and safe under my roof and His care. I’ve never taken a solid night’s sleep for granted in 25 years.
Not everyone honors sleep
I spent some time in the corporate world where it seemed like the underlying company motto was “You can sleep when you die.” There were no parameters around working hours and the expectation was to be “on” all the time. It wasn’t uncommon to receive emails from colleagues during late-night hours or find my inbox flooded with e-mails that had come through in the wee hours of the morning while I was still sleeping.
The pressure to work late into the evening after a long day of calls, meetings, or travel was immense. If you didn’t you could never keep up with everyone else. So, while it was never said that it was expected of us to skimp on essentials like sleep or family time, it was implied by the practices of all the leaders in the company.
Early morning flights to spend ten hours in meetings were commonplace. Working lunches were one thing but we had early morning working breakfasts too! It always baffled me that others did not honor sleep and slow mornings like I did.
As Your Morning Goes, So Goes Your Life
If you google the words, how to create a morning routine, you'll get 143 million results. But how can you create a…
A morning practice to honor sleep
I like to enter my day slowly, with intention and thoughtfulness of what lies ahead. With my cup of coffee, I reflect on what’s going on in my life and mind, writing down all the things that are bubbling to the surface so God and I can dissect them and process them. I do this in the form of morning pages, a practice promoted by artist and writer Julia Cameron as a way of clearing the mind and heart of lingering worries or ideas, capturing them on paper to make sense of or just simply store away.
In Winston Churchill fashion, I linger in my bed strewn with papers and pens, Bibles and books, and hold onto the freshness of the morning’s strength. I know that as soon as my feet hit the floor, life will start barreling at me at 21st-century technology-enhanced speed and I won’t take a breath again until evening.
So I savor the fresh kiss of God in the morning after His gift of renewing sleep.
I’m grateful that I’ve crafted a life where I can practice such soul care. I realize there are many who don’t get this luxury or choose to forsake it for chasing the wind, yet I wonder how different our society might be if everyone took time in the slow morning hours to practice gratitude for the gift of sleep — amongst other treasures of life.
Instead of trying to cheat sleep, override the built-in sabbath of each day, and short circuit the morning of clean slates and fresh wonder, what if we each embraced the practice of thanking the night for its work on our behalf and entered our days with gratitude and a renewed energy of trust and joy?
I asked God what I should do with my life and He answered, “The fields are ripe but the workers are distracted.” I hope that my words are a respite from the busyness of life, tiny nuggets that nudge you to pay attention, seek wonder, and slow down long enough to hear the voice from inside you that is God.