In the last article I listed the first five ways lack of sleep hinders my spiritual life. Now for the rest (no pun intended!)…
6. I say things I don’t mean.
God wants us to restrain our lips (Prov. 10:19). I don’t know about you, but that’s hard for me to do when I’m overly tired. Unkind words and hurtful comments tend to fly out of my mouth.
7. I cannot think as clearly.
Paul wrote, “Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning” (1 Cor. 15:34). In order to stop sinning, we have to think clearly and soberly. When my mind is groggy from insufficient rest, I simply can’t seem to think straight. I lose concentration easily and, when I’m tired enough, I find it difficult to even put my words together coherently!
8. I simply don’t care.
When I’m exhausted, it’s easy for me to neglect my responsibilities to be an understanding husband (1 Pet. 3:1) and to discipline my kids (Eph. 6:4), not to mention staying on my side of the road when I’m driving — simply because I don’t care like I should. All I seem to care about is getting some rest.
9. I am more lazy.
1 Peter 1:13 says to “prepare your minds for action.” When I haven’t slept well, I just want to lay around all day. I certainly don’t want to put forth the massive amount of energy it takes to serve God and battle Satan.
10. I have less desire to worship.
When Jesus told Peter, James and John to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, they kept falling asleep. Jesus rebuked them and said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). I feel that same way when I’m trying to worship God while I’m sleepy. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak.
HOW TO FIX THESE PROBLEMS
Can you relate to these struggles? If so, how can you best deal with them? Here are four quick suggestions:
First, be diligent to faithfully serve the Lord whether you’re rested or not. When our flesh is weak, we must push ourselves to do God’s will anyway. Lack of sleep is no excuse for sin!
Second, don’t overlook the importance of a good night’s rest. Make it a priority. When you’ve done all you can do for the day, be disciplined enough to stop and sleep. And don’t stay up all night partying — even if it’s clean partying — if you hope to be positive and focused the next day. This is especially helpful to remember on Saturday nights, since the next day is the Lord’s Day.
Third, know when to say no. Too many of us, myself included, say yes to too many things because we want to make everyone happy. This desire, however, comes at a serious cost. We become overly busy and stressed out, and we don’t sleep well. We need boundaries. Give yourself permission to say no.
Fourth, when you lay your head on your pillow at night, don’t fret and worry all night long. Give your troubles to God, and He will give you the peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:6-7). You will sleep much better that way.
The next time you feel depressed or impatient or grouchy or lazy, ask yourself if you’ve gotten enough sleep. Sometimes the solution is a lot easier than we think! The truth is, God can use us much more effectively when we make sleep a priority. Fortunately, I’ve gotten pretty good at this. How about you?