Monday, 16 July 2012

Sleep...

I love my bed!! I love to snuggle down into my duvet, curl up into a ball and fall asleep… and I can do it at any time of the day or night! As a teenager and through university this was a bit of a curse as I did sleep through some key revision times – like the night before my A-level physics exam and my mum decided I must need to sleep more than I needed to revise!! (She wasn’t right and I ended up with a C!)


But now, as a mother I have embraced my ability to sleep anywhere and at any time to get my proper sleep in much smaller doses. After all, I had my first child 10½ years ago and when you add on the 9 months of constant peeing in the middle of the night… so I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in over 11 years!


My boys are actually all great sleepers and are mostly asleep by 7:30/8pm but one of them – and it does vary considerably! – always ends up getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, have a cuddle or to try to sneak into our bed… and I always end up getting up to escort them back to their  own beds before they get too comfy!


So every morning, for a couple of years, I would spend the time when the boys were either in school or napping to have a little cat-nap myself. For a long time I felt incredibly guilty about these, as I thought about all the things in the house that really needed done, and how it seemed like a waste of time, but I have always needed my sleep and even as a little girl I would react badly to a lack of sleep (you know – the grumpiness and gurning and general ‘keep away’ behaviour). So I came to the realisation that if I wanted to be able to function properly as a wife and mum (as well as a housekeeper, cook and taxi driver!) I needed to forgo the ironing and sleep when I could.


Thankfully that phase has passed for me. The boys are now going for almost full nights without getting up, or are trying to be as quiet as mice when they do so as not to wake me (but you know the score – I’m a mum so I hear EVERY noise they make!!) and I don’t need to nap anymore. My mornings have returned to being much more useful as I can use them to do all the housework and ministry work I need to do. But at that stage they were very important for me.


When we think about the amount of sleep we get, most people will agree that we don’t get enough of it! Everyone is so busy trying to fit everything into their already busy lives, that they really do burn the candle at both ends and end up physically exhausted. But God has created us to need rest. He created us in His image, and as we read His Word it starts off with His creating for 6 days… and resting for 1. We all need proper rest in order to be able to function properly and the live the lives God intended us to live.


But then you can also go to the opposite extreme and sleep too much. Believe it or not – this actually has the opposite effect than you desire. It can zap all of your energy and make you feel even more tired, depressed and lethargic than ever. So how can you win?


The key to a proper sleep is finding the pattern of sleep that works for you. Some people need 8 hours of sleep a night to be able to function properly. Some need 7,9 or 10. Try a couple of different times and figure out which sleep pattern leaves you waking with the maximum amount of energy… and then commit to getting that each night.


This is where it gets hard!! Elizabeth George, in her book,  does suggest that you pick your bed time – start with your getting up time and take away the amount of sleep you need – and then start heading to bed an hour earlier. Let’s face it – we’re women and every single woman I know will start to head to bed 5 minutes before ‘bedtime’ and end up having so many last minute things to do – wash your face, brush your teeth, put on your night creams, remember to put the bin out, set the dishwasher on wash, get your clothes out for tomorrow, put on your pjs, read a bit… - that we end up actually going to bed an hour or an hour and a half later than we wanted to!! So set yourself a ‘get ready for bed’ time as well as a ‘bed’ time and see if that helps!!


The key lies in finding the right pattern for your life – and like everything else – having sleep in moderation. But have you ever thought about praying that God will help you get the proper amount of sleep? This is yet another area of our lives that God wants to get involved with…


So – to sum up…


Too much sleep is bad for you…


‘If you love sleep, you will end in poverty.
Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat!’
Proverbs 20:13


…while not enough will also be detrimental to your health…


Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.’
Isaiah 40:30


…but when we get the balance right, with God’s help, we can be sure that we can face the day without any of the tiredness and moods that come with it, and have others say of us…


‘She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.’
Proverbs 31:27


Here’s to a great night’s sleep for you all!!
And above all – keep shining… J

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