I have been thinking about sleep lately and about how important it is. I even take my feather pillow wherever I travel to help me sleep better. When I looked up some Bible verses to see what it said about sleep here are a few I found. Some encourage us that having faith and trust in God helps us to sleep more peacefully.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
In my time as a Principal and teacher, I often saw the children, or heard about them falling asleep in class, being anxious and angry, feeling sick and moody, and even hopeless. Much of this had to do with lack of sleep.
So how much sleep is enough? Generally junior school aged children should be sleeping at least ten hours each night. If they don’t get that amount it will definitely impact on their schooling – lack of concentration, distractedness, daydreaming, nodding off, impaired memory function and other disorders including in the long term, sleep disorders.
Teenagers also need that amount of sleep, but rarely get it. They are often experiencing what is called sleep debt because they are not getting the eight to ten hours they need. Teenagers also have changes in their biological clocks which make it harder to get them to sleep at night and to get them up early in the mornings (and you thought they were just being naughty!)
Even when children are bouncing about at bedtime it does not necessarily mean they are not tired. Here are some tips:
Establish clear routines for bedtime. Routines are repeated.
Avoid too much screen time before bed. TV and computer games stimulate the senses when you want your children to be sleepy. There’s a physiological response as well: The blue light emitted by smartphones and tablets simulates daylight, inhibiting the brain’s production of melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep and stay asleep.
Read a book to them or encourage them to read for a while before the light goes out.
Be firm. Be consistent. You are the boss. You need to help them to see the importance of sleeping enough, but in the end you help them to make good decisions.
This can be much harder with teens. However, if you have been firm in the junior school years you will find it easier later on. Society has survived until this century without electronic
paraphernalia, so young people can do without it when you pull the plug (literally if necessary).
Different cultures may have different attitudes to sleep but our bodies are all the same so sleep is a God-given blessing we must honour. The problem across the globe is that digital media is becoming more widespread as countries have access to internet and cheap connected cell phones.
Tired people become troubled and anxious. Lack of sleep amplifies problems. Those who don’t sleep enough perform more poorly in school and in the workplace and are at greater risk of developing obesity. Sleep deprivation is also linked to mental health issues including depression, with its sense of hopelessness, and anxiety among both teens and adults.
Parents and leaders are usually sleep deprived. So do yourself a favour and from time to time ask somebody to care for the kids/ministry and have a catch up to be together, to think, and to sleep, and dream, and hope for the future that God has promised you. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Bless you. You’re doing a great job. But remember we all need more sleep.