When I tell you that today is World Sleep Day, I wonder what your reaction is?
I have a somewhat tempestuous relationship with sleep; I love it – but it doesn’t love me!
I’ve struggled with sleep since birth according my Mum – at my worst I was living on less two hours a night – and at my best around six hours a night.
Sleep and mental health are strange bedfellows; we know that we need good quality sleep for mental health, but all too often mental health problems can wreak havoc with it – from endless sleep that does little refreshing to nights tossing and turning trying to fight anxiety.
Even in the Bible – the importance of sleep is noted – from prophetic dreams to the rhythm of sleeping and eating offered to Elijah when he fled to Mount Horeb.
Practically speaking, there is some key advice for getting good sleep that may not solve your sleep problems, but might go a way to making life more manageable.
The Mental Health Foundation recommend the following:*
- Exercise regularly, but at least three hours before bedtime.
- Avoid tea and coffee and don’t drink a lot of alcohol before bed.
- Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
- Only use your bed for sleep or sex. Your bed should be associated with sleep.
- Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine that lets you unwind and sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep.
- If you can’t sleep, don’t worry about it. Get up and do something relaxing like listening to music or reading until you feel sleepy.
Whether or not we get on with sleep, I think we need to get to grips with rest before we get to grips with sleep.
Whilst to a certain extent we are at the mercy of sleep – we have to make the choice to rest, to embrace a Sabbath.
Make the choice to have an hour, an afternoon or a day where you switch off.
It might be that having the ideal day’s rest isn’t possible but we need to get into a rhythm of rest.
Whether it be five minutes alone in the shower, the walk to collect the children from school or the day when your emails are silenced – we need learn to rest – rest from busyness – and rest in Jesus who took naps but healed on the Sabbath!
Shelly Miller writes:
“Sabbath isn’t about resting perfectly; it’s about resting in the One who is perfect.”