A recent study suggests that we don’t need as much sleep as we previously thought. Eight hours of sleep was always deemed the optimal amount. Any less was bad for you. Any more (over an extended period of time) is also bad for you. But now, researchers suggest that less than eight may actually be all we need.
I’m a five-to-six hours a night sleeper. I’m in bed between midnight and 1:00 AM, and am usually up by 6:00 AM. Recently, however, I’ve been sleeping a little longer, until around 7:30. I’m still tired. My body needs a break… as does my brain. As do my emotions. As does my spirit. It’s time for a break. Fortunately, I’m taking one very soon.
It’s been said that Martin Luther, the great church reformer of centuries past, once said that he was so busy that he couldn’t afford to pray any less than three hours a day. Wow. We’re lucky if we pray three minutes. We’re so busy. Work, kids, marriage, hobbies, more work, TV, internet, kids’ activities, church, etc. We feel so bad if we don’t pack out every minute of every day of our calendar. As a result, we’re run down, worn out, and God ends up taking a back seat.
I think those of Spanish culture are onto something… the siesta (which is also popular in Asian and Middle Eastern cultures).
God did not create us to go full throttle all the time. God set a standard for us early on. Look what the Bible says in Genesis 1:2-3,
And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
Now, it’s not like God needed to rest; it’s not like He was tired. He simply stopped His creative work. He didn’t create anything on day seven. But our physical bodies weren’t created to go, go, go. This is why God gave the command in Exodus 20:8-11 to remember the sabbath day (some would argue that this no longer applies to us, which is true… but the principle is still a godly one). We were created to work six days, and rest one. That one day of rest rejuvinates our bodies, minds, and spirits. It’s an opportunity to focus on God, to be with family.
When you go through the Old Testament law and see how much time off that God commanded the Israelites to take, it’s quite amazing. They had to take every Saturday off. They had to take several weeks off each year to attend festivals. They had to take every seventh year off (the Sabbath year, to give the ground a chance to rest from continual crop planting and harvesting). They had to take every fiftieth year off (the Year of Jubilee). That means that at some point in the average Jew’s life, they didn’t work for two straight years! When you average it out, the average Jew worked for about 150 days a year over a fifty year period. We work on average around 225-250 days a year (accounting for weekends off and two weeks vacation, plus a few sick days). Some of us work way more than that.
We’re too busy… and unfortunately, there’s not much we can do. Some of us need to use all of our vacation time. Some of us need to actually rest during our time off because we work just as hard on the weekends as we do at our jobs. I’m not saying do absolutely nothing… although there is a need for us to do that every once in awhile.
What do you need to do in order to work some times of rest into your life?
Tomorrow, we’ll look at some of the benefits of regularly sabbathing (taking regular time for rest).