By by Living Springs Retreat Health Educator



Considering the times we’re living in, what are some things that have been going through your mind in regards to your body?  Is it, “I wish I had more energy!” or “I’m making changes so I can have a stronger immune system!” or even, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired!”

It’s probably safe to say that everyone wants to feel good.  Everyone can generally say that having a healthy body and enjoying life with family and friends is a precious gift.  Who wouldn’t want to wake up everyday feeling refreshed and energized?  Secondly, its probably safe to say that a good night’s sleep is a major component to feeling well and staying healthy.  Healthy sleep is golden when it comes to having vibrant health, free of disease.  When having to make a tough decision, some people like to say, “I’ll sleep on it.”  Yes, sleep is like hitting the “restart” button on your mobile device. Healthy sleep enables the brain to form new pathways and remember information. It also helps with learning, paying attention, making decisions, being creative, fighting infection, healthy metabolism, work productivity, development, and healing. Its amazing what sleep does. The best part is that sleep itself doesn’t cost any money, per se. This is refreshing to realize! One would think that what is free and pleasurable would be a popular pursuit, but as time passes on, that is not the case today.

While there are many causes of Americans' sleepless nights, research from the National Sleep Foundation suggests that a big one is simply that Americans don't consider sleep a priority. When asked which of five items were most important to them personally, just 10% of respondents said sleep—far less than cited fitness/nutrition, work, and hobbies. [1] The CDC recommends a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night for adults. The CDC also reports that sleeping less than 7 hours in a 24 hour period is associated with an increased risk in health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, mental disorders and more. It’s not only an invitation for disease that lack of sleep gives us, but issues like a weakened immune system, less endurance while doing physical activity, mood swings, low motivation, and low creativity occur. In fact, losing just one or two hours of sleep per night can have the same impact on motor and cognitive functions as going without sleep for a full day or two.[2]  

In just 80 years, the numbers of U.S. adults getting enough good sleep have plummeted. In 1942, the average American got 7.9 hours of sleep per night, according to a Gallup Poll.[3]  In 1942, only 11% of people were getting six hours or less sleep per night. In recent years, that percentage has jumped up to around 40%!!![4] So in other words, a strong one-third (and growing) of the population of U.S. adults are only getting six hours of sleep per night or less. This is sleep deprivation, and it is a health emergency. But it’s also a society emergency. Between 2013 and 2017 there were a total of 4,111 fatalities that involved drowsy driving. In 2017, there were 91,000 police-reported crashes that involved drowsy drivers. Those crashes led to about 50,000 people being injured.[5] One in twenty people have fallen asleep at the wheel in the past month.[6] 

Statistics reveal the startling effects of a global sleep deficit dilemma. Sixty-Two percent of adults around the world say they don’t sleep as well as they’d like (Philips Global Sleep Survey, 2019). 8 in 10 adults around the world want to improve their sleep but 60% have not sought help from a medical professional (Philips Global Sleep Survey, 2019).  Airplane crashes, boat accidents, and nuclear reactor meltdowns are also societal “red flags” that there is a sleep problem everywhere you look.[7]

Do we realize that our daily decisions have far-reaching results? Such startling information should sound an alarm in every parent’s ear! We need to educate our children on the importance of rest and regular bedtime. We would all do well with a wind-down time before bedtime, such as a warm bath or brief reading to drift peacefully off to sleep. Children and youth need to be taught that sleep should always be a priority. Consider the simple remedies that Wayne Giles, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of Population Health recommends for a good night’s sleep, “As a nation we are not getting enough sleep, changes such as going to bed at the same time each night; rising at the same time each morning; and turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices from the bedroom, can help people get the healthy sleep they need.”[8] The doctor is absolutely right. In addition, sleep experts share that eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, having daytime exposure to sunlight, avoiding alcohol especially prior to bedtime, and having a cool, dark sleep environment will help tremendously with catching those “zees” for 8 hours.[9]  

Do you want a smaller waistline? An interesting study in July of 2020 from the found that people who sleep less than 8 hours per night tend to consume more calories than people who get 8 hours of sleep.[10] Overall, if we follow these simple guidelines in lifestyle, not only will our bodies appreciate it, but we can think of it also as a responsibility that we owe to our family, our community, and to our Maker-Jesus Christ. After all, He created us and prescribes in the Bible what we can do for good health.

His words have a profound impact especially for today. In Matthew 11:28-30, He says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Do not these words have a powerful physical and spiritual application for today? Sweet peace and true rest come from Him and Him alone.  This invitation is for the whole human family.

A beautiful illustration of His power to save from the bondage of lawlessness (which permeates to restlessness, exhaustion, and oppression) is shown in the Exodus account. What is so encouraging about this account is that God opened up the Sea (and act no human can do) to deliver the people from oppression and into a wilderness where they could learn of Him, being nourished by His daily provisions, and encouraged to press onward to Canaan-the promised land. Today, the same experience is the Christian’s as we journey through the weary wilderness of life, Jesus is with us every day sustaining us and helping us to understand and do His ways. He gives us power to do right for our bodies and do right for others if only we would “yoke up with Him.” Are you weary? Heavy-laden? Are you sick? He says I will protect you from disease, but you need to keep my health laws for your well-being. Exodus 15:26. His promise is ours to claim that we shall indeed find rest for our souls, even now. “Come unto Me,” Jesus invites. He is still with us on the journey if we will only trust Him. The Canaan that we will arrive at one day- as long as we are faithful to Him-is the one in Heaven. Jesus wants to meet you there in person and with perfect physical, spiritual, and mental health. 


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