YOU'VE HEARD it before. Exercise regularly, enjoy a proper diet, jog a mile or two to keep weight off and build up your cardiovascular system — these immediately come to mind when one thinks of becoming healthy. But there is still a missing element in maintaining vigorous health. Do you know what it is? Millions constantly abuse it. Ask yourself: Do I stay up late watching TV? Do I feel tired, without pep, unable to concentrate? If so, you probably infringed on this missing element yourself within the last 48 hours. This vital missing dimension is proper rest and sleep!
Finding Answers in Sleep
When you buy a sophisticated tool or appliance, you receive an instruction manual that tells you how to maintain and utilize that tool properly. You often risk danger or damaging it by not reading the manual. You may not realize it, but an instruction manual was written for all humanity by the Creator God. This manual reveals basic, missing knowledge that, when applied, leads to an energy-filled life filled with happiness, prosperity and peace of mind. It also happens to be the world's bestseller, although many, perhaps including you, have never read it through. This manual is none other than the Bible! In it the Great Being who made you provided the means for' you to understand yourself and the world around you. He revealed in it more than 2,500 years ago what many doctors and academicians are confirming now! Every night, millions toss and turn, futilely chasing elusive slumber. Perhaps you are a little bleary-eyed now. And, as you well know, if you didn't have problems sleeping last night, you've had them before in one form or another, and will probably suffer mild insomnia in the future. Why? Let's understand cause and effect in this matter of restful sleep and waking up vibrant. "The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep" (Ecclesiastes 5:12). Here the Bible reveals important psychological and physical precepts you need to know. Few realize how fully interdependent their bodies and minds are.
Why do laboring men sleep better than rich (and often worried) executives? Wouldn't it seem logical for the reverse to be true if money alone assures success? The truth is, men (and women) who perform strenuous, prolonged physical labor build their minds and bodies into one. They generally have no pretensions about who or what they are and see positive, physical achievement in what they accomplish — whether it is clearing brush or moving steel drums. And generally speaking, when they retire for the day, they enjoy sound sleep. On the other hand, an executive or office worker is often harried, under mental pressure to get things done. He or she sits at a desk, pushing papers all day long — often under stressful conditions. With no physical outlets for stored energy, mind and body drift apart. Excess weight collects from hasty, starchy meals, circulation lessens and muscle tone weakens. Eventually, a doctor may warn these people to slow down and "take it easy." But they can't! They've got large house payments, car payments, a certain life-style — they must produce. Workers do, too. But the executive carries his problems home. The phone constantly rings at night. He thinks about his investments. His marriage may be in trouble. Maybe the company union is raising an issue — little wonder he has trouble sleeping! He's expended little physical energy — but now mental turmoil from today's problems races through his mind. Unable to sleep, our friend switches on the television — cutting himself off from proper rest. "I'll make it up on the weekend," he thinks. He's trapped in a vicious circle. Dr. Ernest L. Hartmann explains that mental tiredness "has the paradoxical effect of making it hard to fall asleep." Has this ever happened to you? It is something to be concerned about. Even if we don't suffer from chronic insomnia, poor sleep habits can lead to many problems. "Irregular hours of sleep... have physical and perhaps mental consequences whose effect we simply do not know," say Gay Gaer Luce and Julius Segal of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. "Nobody is positive that we escape without permanent neural damage from simple loss of sleep." Research confirms that prolonged lack of sleep produces measurable effects on performance. This means if you are not getting proper rest and sleep, your judgment is impaired, mental functions decline, your ethical behavior changes and finally, after extreme loss of sleep, you start exhibiting psychotic symptoms. You may not be aware of this,
Sleep is a mirror of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual condition. How you sleep gives you clues on what's happening in your life.
but after 48 hours without sleep, your body begins manufacturing a stress chemical that causes hallucinations similar to the effects of LSD!
The Bible reveals other basic principles of getting normal sleep. Contrary to what some think, it does not condemn people for being rich or holding executive positions (III John 2). However, the message is, that if you have a job that requires more mental than physical activity you should exercise regularly to equalize the mental energy spent. If you don't, you will end up in a condition that prohibits sound slumber, and hence, makes you less effective — to your detriment. "But," some have said, "I do exercise and I still can't sleep!" There is a deeper reason! We should note that occasional mild insomnia is nothing to worry about. This can often be helped by drinking a glass of milk an hour before bed. Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps induce sleep. For some, however, sleep is affected because of physical problems like narcolepsy (falling asleep uncontrollably) or the hyper-somnia-sleep apnea syndrome (unable to sleep at night, but uncontrollably falling asleep during the day). For the vast majority of us, sleep is chased away by anxiety arising from undisciplined personal problems. Both real and imagined, big and little, these problems seem to grow the biggest just when we close our eyes in a snug bed. The real problem starts when we begin worrying that we can't sleep from worrying about our problems. This vicious circle is completely unnecessary! Sleep is a mirror of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual condition. How you sleep gives you clues on what's happening in your life. You need to analyze your sleep habits, as scientists have found disheartening evidence about the psychological effects of sleep loss. The Bible reveals the way to peaceful rest and peace of mind: "It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he [God] giveth his beloved sleep" (Psalms 127:2). This is no sentimental, maudlin statement! This is a promise from the One who created sleep. It is the person who is beloved of God who sleeps well. So we need to find out how to become "beloved" in order to claim this promise. Jesus Himself revealed how: "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him" (John 14:23). And what words did Jesus say? "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17). Yes, there is an invisible spiritual law that governs our lives. Mold your life along this law and your life will be filled with peace of mind and reasonable physical prosperity. Included will be the ability to enjoy sound sleep. Break this law and it breaks you! This is the fundamental, underlying cause that prevents millions each night from enjoying slumber. Further proof is in Proverbs 3:21, 24: "Let not them [the basic principles of this spiritual law] depart from thine eyes... [so] when thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet"! There you have it! By keeping this spiritual law, your life smoothes out — you become tuned in to things that transcend the everyday problems we all face. Once you have focused on the purpose of life, ordinary hassles pale into nothing! The way to restful sleep has existed for thousands of years — God wants you to know this, but many don't heed: "God... told them... where true rest lay, rest for worn souls [Hebrew: ayeph — very tired people], refreshing rest, and yet they would not listen" (Isaiah 28:12, Moffatt). You must make the decision! You can either continue to be frustrated in attempting to solve your problems by defying this unbreakable law, or choose peace and prosperity. If you'd like to know more about this law and way of life and how to apply it, we have available a free booklet. It's called The Ten Commandments. You can sleep better after you read it and do what it says. Sleeping involves one third of your life. By observing God's statutes, practicing good sleep habits and exercising properly, you can enjoy sleep — a very special gift from God.