Too often when I’ve been busy, my sleep has been the first thing I cut back on. But after reading a post by David Murray on “50 Good Reasons to Sleep Longer,” wherein he lists (among others) the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual consequences of sleep deprivation, I started to reassess my attitude towards sleep.
I realized that I often view it as a luxury that needs to be sacrificed if I’m to serve God as fully as possible. I might even feel guilty when I give in to it instead of trying to do “just one more thing.” I’ve tried to force myself to live with less and less of it in an attempt to be more productive. The result is that I have, of late, seen more than a few of those “50 reasons” creeping into my day-to-day life.
Is it okay to sleep? Here’s what Jason McMartin had to say in “How Can Sleep Bring Glory to God?”
We glorify God by making known his greatness. Human sleep illuminates God’s nature by means of contrast and difference. Humans must sleep and can die if they do not. God’s sleeplessness shows his independence; our sleepfulness reveals our dependence. We cannot not sleep; God cannot sleep. God is blessed in himself, which includes his self-existence and independence. He has the source of life and joy in himself (1 Thess. 1:9; Ps. 36:9; John 1:3–4; Jer. 32:36–41; Zeph. 3:17) and is in need of nothing to possess these things. Sleep brings glory to God by showing that we are not blessed in ourselves and must receive blessing from God’s hand. If we are to possess existence, life, joy or anything at all, we must receive them from God as gifts of grace. Appropriately then, we glorify God in sleep without being able to help it. Sleep shows my creatureliness in contrast to the Almighty Creator who gives me life….
In Scripture, trust emerges as the basic theme concerning the spiritual significance of sleep…. Psalm 127 expresses trust in God for success in one’s endeavors of building a house, guarding a city and growing a family. Sleepless activity will not ensure that our efforts will be rewarded. Jesus models trust for us by sleeping in the midst of a storm (Mark 4:35–41). The Good Shepherd causes his sheep to lie down in places of abundance and security (Ez. 34:14–15; Ps. 23; Mark 6:39; John 10:1-18); submission to that guidance and provision is an expression of trust.
It’s more than okay to sleep. It’s more than okay to stop working at night, though there’s no end to what could be done for the sake of God’s kingdom. Sleeping is more than just the way God designed us to function; it’s actually a daily confession of our own limitations, our dependence on God, and our trust in Him to run the world.
We don’t just glorify God by working, we glorify Him by sleeping.