Sleepless in Seattle

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 wasn’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.

“How’re those push-ups and sit-ups coming along,” she’ll ask, pretending to be subtle. “What are you going to do to get some kind of cardio workout?”

Power Nap
Not my actual power nap strategy.

I bite back a sarcastic retort and smile ambiguously, avoiding eye contact. “I’ll figure something out,” I mumble vaguely. Whenever Kathy begins to be satisfied with her weight, she pays more attention to mine. “Maybe we need more magazines around here with unattainable, waif-like female bodies on the cover,” I muse to myself. (Sometimes when I’m musing, I’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 couldn’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.

Sleepy Giraffe
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 ‘my boys’ for prayer before work. I’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 chip’s worth of computer gaming whenever I can fit it in. And then there’s writing blog entries whenever Kathy comes up empty. There just don’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 don’t sleep very well and often wake up in the middle of the night, sneezing and congested.

Monday came too early
This could have been me on the train this morning.

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 I’m tired, my view of life darkens and narrows considerably, yet I’m unwilling to give up many of the things that vie for my time.

Don't wake me 'til at least 10 am.
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:

”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.” – 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 ‘rest’ begins to seem a lot more attractive to me.

”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.” — Hebrews 4:9-11

Polar exhaustion
We have a bear like this at our local zoo …

So I’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?


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13 thoughts on “Sleepless in Seattle”

  1. In our paper today was the study saying that young children who get less than 12 hours of sleep a day will have more trouuble with obesity as teens. I’ve read this before and wonder!!

    JW and I get about 7-8 hours of sleep a night these days. I like it. I mostly feel rested with this amount. JW takes power naps when he gets home and it helps him make it to bed time.

    We are both NOT night owls and so that helps us with early bedtimes. We like rising early- so there again- getting to bed early helps. We wonder what timing we will keep when jw really retires.

    Happy day to you, Timothy. I’m off. Love, Aunt Kate

  2. For me sleep is absolutely critical to my mental and physical being. If I’m not getting enough then I morph into an extremely cranky, short-tempered and listless blob.

    I NEED my sleep and everyone I live with agrees with me. My husband would prefer that our house stays a little messy and cluttered in order for me to get my minimum of 8 hours of snooze time.

    Sometimes I think of sleep as a necessary evil. Oh, the things I could get done if I didn’t have to sleep! But I know better.

  3. great pics tim! love that lion and bear. sleep is good, it is very,very good. i tend to stay up too late too, but i make up for it on sat morning. luckily my son likes to sleep in sat’s too, so we stay up abnormally late on friday nites and sleep away half of saturday.

    and i have discovered naps of late. sunday afternoon is supreme naptime in our family. our son has a sleep disorder and we have to give him meds to get him to sleep and keep him asleep. but every once in awhile he wakes up at 3 or 4am. with his special needs one of his parents has to be watching him all the time so we can both attest to what sleep deprivation does to the human species. its not a pretty sight.

  4. my last two children dont sleep very well, so its been about 4 years since I slept all night (except these last two nights yippee) so I think sleep is very important and miss it so much. Now I feel like I could sleep 12 hours on a weekend just to catch up but that cant be good for you either. I dream of sleeping.

  5. I believe sleep is vital, enjoyable, and blessed. I could never do with less than six routinely, at least not now. And, since God created us to sleep (one must assume that sleep isn’t a result of the Fall), I think it’s good. I, too, wish I had about 48 hours a day and could survive on two hours of sleep, but I can’t. There’s probably a reason that I can’t, and that probably has to do with me being human and all.

  6. I love sleeping. I am almost slothful I enjoy it so much. I have been convicted of late that I might be setting a bad example for my children with my night owl/rising later ways. We do get around to ‘school’ it’s just not as bright and early as many other homeschool families we know.

    Sleep though…it’s a very good thing.

  7. I think sleep is a huge part of the health picture though I would agree that people may differ in what they require. I used to work nights and felt 10 years older when it was all said and done because of the lack of night time sleep. It’s just not good for a person, I say.

    I think it is particularly important for children to sleep long periods of time in order to grow properly. That’s one thing I love about homeschooling- letting the kids get the sleep they need. They learn so much better when they are awake:).

    I think rest is altogether different than sleep. Rest is not necessarily being asleep, but ceasing from ordinary work and exertion. People wonder how we can be so busy with our jobs and family- we tell them it’s all about observing the Lord’s Day as a day of rest. We let all rest and recreation on this day and spend time worshiping, reading, being quiet, being together and just enjoying the Day. At this stage in our lives this does entail naps for all which is a good thing. We don’t make this rest a legalistic thing but rather want to live it out as a blessing that God provides His people.

  8. I love sleep. I am also a night owl, but find that staying up too late conflicts with child getting up in the morning. Thankfully, I have a wonderful 15yo dd who is willing to get up and feed her sibs while I drag myself out of bed.

    I like to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

  9. I aim for 7 hours of sleep. If I get less than this for more than one night in a row, I’m pretty much useless. I only got an average of 6 hours a night Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights, and yesterday I couldn’t even slow down enough to read or I’d fall asleep. Since that’s not acceptable as a student (the reading is necessary for passing), I work hard to make sure that I go to bed ontime.

  10. Need my sleep, always have. I avoided early morning college classes, and now get to bed before 11, so I can be up by 7. My parents–dad especially–are big sleep advocates, so I have examples of Sunday afternoon naps and pulling cars over on road trips for naps. And we try to ensure that our kids get their sleep too; their in bed early (by 8:00 or 8:30).

  11. I love sleep!! I get at least 8 hours almost every night, and if I don’t, well lets just say I will be in a MUCH better mood if I get enough sleep. Also I am a night owl and stay awake till at least 11:00 every night, So I sleep in until at least 9:00 most mornings.

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