How are you sleeping..?
So, after all the food, fun and festivities – how are you sleeping?! You may wonder why I’m asking, but as sleep accounts for about one-third of the entire human lifespan, it’s probably worth thinking about!
Just before Christmas, Sam and I went to the Theatre Royal to watch ‘Macbeth’, which he’s studying as part of his English GCSE. Suddenly my A’ level study of ‘Macbeth’ all came back and I found myself mouthing some of its famous segments: ‘Sleep, that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care. The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, Chief nourisher in life’s feast.’
Apparently, the 3rd January marks the ‘Festival of Sleep Day’ – who knew?! Now after the excesses of Christmas and New Year celebrations, I know a healthy fitness regime is probably in order, but just for one more day, this sounds like the perfect excuse to stay in our PJ’s, pull on a night cap and snuggle back under the duvet until the 4th of the month.
Amazingly, the ‘why’ of sleep isn’t actually fully understood. It is recognised as a key basic human function, helping bodies to regain energy for the next day but in studies where humans only get four hours of sleep for two to three weeks, the detriment to health is staggering. Blood tests show cardiovascular stress, bad metabolic changes, lowered immune function and inflammatory issues. Before the 1950s, most scientists believed sleep was a passive activity in which the body and brain were simply dormant. Further studies seem to show now that actually sleep is a period during which the brain is highly engaged in a whole variety of biological and mental activities closely linked to the quality of life.
Interestingly, the Bible says lots about sleep but perhaps before I get too carried away, it’s probably helpful to bring some balance for some of us sleepyheads by remembering Proverbs 6:9’s challenging rebuke: ‘How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?’ I’m guessing Solomon, who wrote the book of Proverbs, came up with this one after he’d raised teenagers! For me though, what comes to mind is the account found in Mark 4 when a furious storm arose on the Sea of Galilee with Jesus and the disciples in a nearly swamped boat. Jesus, we’re told, was in the stern, ‘sleeping on a cushion’. The disciples wake him screaming: ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’
Sadly, for many people, in those moments of pain, loneliness, anguish or terror, it may seem like God is indeed silent, uninterested, perhaps seemingly asleep and so a cry rises up: ‘Don’t you care?!’ But Jesus’ response is immediate – He does care, He is able to speak a word and He will bring hope, transformation and peace. The Psalmist reminds us: ‘In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.’ (Psalm 4:8)
Remember, ‘He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.’ (Psalm 121:3-4)
Priest in Charge Loves church pioneering, family, guitars, Macs, jeeps and Jesus, not necessarily in that order...