(The following article was written for our local church newsletter.)
“Indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalms 121:4
That statement of the psalmist pertains to God. However, humans in this modern age also try not to sleep nor slumber. With our 24-hour-a-day schedule, and with a society that makes the night the frontier of the next day, people deprived themselves of sleep. And that is not good for our health.
God created men to work, to play, AND to sleep. Though some creatures only require less hours of sleep, like the giraffe who sleeps less than 2 hours a day. But for an adult human, we need an average of 7-8 hours of sleep to stay healthy and to function properly. (Babies and kids need more.) Even though we still not fully understand the science behind it, we know that sleep is needed to regenerate certain parts of our body, especially our brain. Somehow sleep resets our brain to work optimally.
Sleep deprivation has become one of the most prevalent public health problems of our time. It is estimated that in our modern culture we sleep an hour and a half less than people did a century ago. Of course, they don’t have televisions that have programs like “Late, Late Night Show” or computers and internet that is basically 24/7, a century ago.
Our society’s lack of sleep is evident on many mishaps that we had. The 3-Mile Island, space shuttle Challenger and Exxon Valdez accidents were partly blamed on human errors caused by operators who were sleep deprived. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that 1 out of 5 serious injuries from traffic accidents is related to a tired and sleepy driver.
When we lack sleep, it impairs our cognitive function, judgement, reflexes and reaction time. In studies, people who were awake for 17-19 hours and drove, they performed as bad as people who were drunk with an alcohol level of 0.5 percent. That means if you are awake since 6 AM and driving at past midnight, you are as good as drunk! Now what if you even had a real drink too? That will be really bad.
Some people who are always tired and sleepy may have real sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome or narcolepsy. They need to see their doctors or better yet referred to a sleep clinic. But many of us who are sleep deprived, are because of our own choosing not to sleep.
If you cannot sleep because of many worries and anxiety, which is by the way the most common cause of insomnia, then maybe you can find comfort in this text: “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” Psalms 4:8.
Good night. Sleep tight.