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The Wisdom of Sleep

Journalists must be tired, because there seem to be a million stories about sleep deficits and napping and optimal sleep patterns, lately. One primary focus is on teens and sleep.

You’ve probably heard it before: Teens don’t get enough sleep. The reported collection of reasons include a) hormones keep teens from feeling sleepy until later in the evening; (combined with) b) early school start times; c) overcrowded schedules; d) constant stimulus from electronics and new media; and even e) lack of exposure to sunlight in the morning.

Our conventional wisdom says, “They’re young; they can take it.” But newish studies suggest that lack of sleep in teens can lead to moodiness, depression, underperforming in academics and athletics, and even more dire health concerns. Here’s a collection of articles on the subject:

Teen sleep: Why is your teen so tired?

Teens struggle to get enough shut-eye

Hey, sleepyhead, get some shuteye

Health Matters: Is sleep that important for teenagers?

Obviously, enforcing healthy sleep patterns with teens can be an uphill battle. As with all areas of life, they will notice whether we practice what we preach about sleep—as well as our attitudes about bed times and waking times.

Many of us carry around the cultural notion that to skip sleep for the sake of work or other important efforts is a sign of character. To sacrifice sleep for the sake of healthy ambition should be encouraged. It’s tough-minded and wise.

I held that position for much of my life, but a chapter in C.J. Mahaney’s little book Humility recently helped me to rethink it. He suggested that to dismiss my need for sleep is prideful, a desire to be like God, who never needs sleep. (See Psalm 121:4.) To deny that I need the 6 to 8 hours a night required by the rest of humanity is to deny that I am a limited human being who needs this particular gift from God.

Instead of resisting or resenting sleep—and then living in the added stress and joylessness that come from being sleep deprived—we and our kids need wisdom to see sleep as God’s way of providing for our minds, bodies, and souls.


Alberta on Mar 25, 2010 said...

Getting your kids on a regular sleeping schedule is the key in my experience.  When they’re up all night and sleeping all day, they cannot adjust when the weekdays roll around.
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