When Kathy organized the 5 for $5 contest earlier this year, I decided to sign up (even though I was the only person of male persuasion to do so). I knew there wasnâ€™t a chance I would win, but I wanted to motivate myself, and I figured it would placate Kathy. Now that she has kept her weight off for more than two years, she casts an appraising eye on me, with a physical makeover in mind.
â€œHowâ€™re those push-ups and sit-ups coming along,â€ sheâ€™ll ask, pretending to be subtle. â€œWhat are you going to do to get some kind of cardio workout?â€
Not my actual power nap strategy.
I bite back a sarcastic retort and smile ambiguously, avoiding eye contact. â€œIâ€™ll figure something out,â€ I mumble vaguely. Whenever Kathy begins to be satisfied with her weight, she pays more attention to mine. â€œMaybe we need more magazines around here with unattainable, waif-like female bodies on the cover,â€ I muse to myself. (Sometimes when Iâ€™m musing, Iâ€™m not very kind.)
Anyway, the point of the 5 for $5 contest was to come up with five health-related goals that you could measure and track over a five-week period, with a maximum of 100 points each week. I came up with four pretty easily, but I couldnâ€™t seem to think of the fifth. Then I remembered a recent study I heard about where they tracked sleep patterns of two groups, and found that those who slept at least 7 hours a night were more likely to lose weight than those who slept less than that. So I set my fifth goal such that I would try to get 7 hours of sleep at least four days a week.
Have you ever seen a giraffe asleep? I haven’t. Maybe this giraffe is dead?
It is surprisingly difficult to get that much sleep in this season of my life. I have to get up pretty early most days, either because of my commute or in order to meet with â€˜my boysâ€™ for prayer before work. Iâ€™m a night-owl by nature, and there always seems to be one more thing I want to do before I sleep. Because of my involvement at church, evening meetings are not uncommon. From time to time I do some side-work, much of it volunteer labor for non-profit organizations. I try to spend time with my wife and my five children each day, and I do like to play a half-hour chipâ€™s worth of computer gaming whenever I can fit it in. And then thereâ€™s writing blog entries whenever Kathy comes up empty. There just donâ€™t seem to be quite enough hours in the day, and so I cut it out of sleep time, more often than not. To compound the problem further, during allergy season (late February to early May, for me) I donâ€™t sleep very well and often wake up in the middle of the night, sneezing and congested.
Some people get by on less than six hours of sleep a night, while others need at least eight. One friend of mine routinely sleeps less than four hours a night, and I know several who view sleep as an enemy to be vanquished or avoided. People vary, but nearly everyone I know complains of being tired, especially on Mondays. I find that when Iâ€™m tired, my view of life darkens and narrows considerably, yet Iâ€™m unwilling to give up many of the things that vie for my time.
I thought about posting pictures of myself asleep, but the logistics were kinda tricky, so I settled on sleepy animals.
Scripture seems a bit divided on this topic. On the one hand, sleep is portrayed as an enemy to financial security:
â€How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest-
and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man.â€ â€“ Proverbs 6:9-11
Yet on the other hand, even God rested when He had completed His work, creating the world. And Christians are encouraged to look forward to their eternal “Sabbath rest”. As I get older, the idea of eternity as â€˜restâ€™ begins to seem a lot more attractive to me.
â€There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.â€ — Hebrews 4:9-11
We have a bear like this at our local zoo …
So Iâ€™ll take an informal comment-poll: What is your philosophical view of sleep? Is it important for your health, or is it a necessary evil? How much sleep do you get, and what steps do you take to improve your chances of getting enough sleep?