So, Freshman, you have almost survived your first day of this new season. Some tears were shed along the way, and I have seen many of you trying to look like you were not having trouble finding your classrooms: “BSC 200, BSC 201, BSC 203. Wait a minute! What did they do with BSC 202?” Yah, we don’t know who numbered that building, either.
Regardless of how easy or elating these days are for you, let me give you one more piece of advice that will revolutionize your college career: You need to get enough sleep at the right time. This is so important–physically and spiritually.
Without sleep, your body will be unhealthy. God created your body to need sleep–every day–7, 8, 9 hours of it. Sleep resets your memory, boosts creativity, reduces stress hormones, and reinvigorates your immune system. You live in a petri dish of viruses that no amount of hand sanitizer is going to conquer. You need to sleep. If you get sick, you will be days behind where you would be if you just slept when you were supposed to. Being chronically tired does not, I repeat, DOES NOT make you smarter–just the opposite, actually–loss of brain tissue, anyone? That’s NOT GONNA HELP YOU SUCCEED IN UNIVERSITY! OR LIFE! Yes, I know I shouting–I just want to make sure you could hear me.
From a spiritual perspective, sleep is a simple declaration that you are faithfully dependent on your God who never slumbers. If your God created you to need sleep, then He will enable you to pursue regular, adequate sleep. And He has even provided examples of what that might look like even in extreme circumstances. Remember David when he was fleeing from his son Absolom? He writes a hymn of praise to the Lord saying:
“I lay down and slept: I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.” Psalm 3:5
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8
David wasn’t the only one who recognized sleep as an act of faith. Jesus slept at what the Disciples considered to be an inopportune time. They were in a boat, going across the Sea of Galilee when a fierce wind drove at the boat. Jesus “was in the stern, asleep on the cushion,” Mark 4:39 tells us.
Sure, there are seasons when sleep eludes, causes that chase it far from possibility: newborn babies, medication side-effects, altitude-induced sleep apnea, pain. But these are not the norm for most students. Take stock of what is keeping you awake.
Some practical tips for you, dear friends:
- Plan to sleep. Do you need 8 hours to function well? Add it to your calendar. Make it a priority.
- Don’t plan to nap. Naps lie to you. They promise refreshment, but in the end, are poor substitutes for the real thing.
- Ditch your phone–stop looking at it at least an hour before you go to bed. This CNN article sheds light on the problems of phones and sleep.
- Avoid multi-tasking: Netflix and homework do not make for efficient use of your time. Doing so elongates what could be short tasks and keeps you up later.
- Earplugs. Eye mask. Fan. Curtains. Life savers all.
- Finally, ask your God for good sleep. He taught us to ask for our daily bread, right? He delights to help you depend on Him.
“It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127.2
Repost from August 2017.
Thanks, Lisa. Good thoughts. One disagreement: naps can be very helpful. I don’t “plan” for a nap, but if I feel I need it, I can rest for 10-30 minutes and feel re-charged and ready to go. I’ve read others who say something similar.
I agree that naps can be helpful. However, for many college students, they serve as a substitute for actual sleep.