Sweet Dreams, Sabbath
Do you get 8 hours of sleep daily? Do your teenagers get 10 hours of sleep daily?
No? You may be surprised to hear that you're a part of a pretty major public health problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Getting enough sleep is one of the simplest things you can do for your physical and mental well-being.
I know this isn't news to you. You've seen the same Yahoo articles I have about winding down before bed, avoiding screens, and eating smaller meals.
You've seen the same morning show segments about how a good night's sleep can help you maintain a healthy weight, make you look younger, and improve mental alertness.
But life gets in the way.
We have crazy households to run, laundry in piles in the corner, dinners to cook, soccer games to attend, and maybe you have a one-year-old who is experiencing some strange combination of teething pain and night terrors. (Or is that last one just me?)
There are a hundred reasons for health and safety that you should make sleep a priority, and I'm going to add one more to the list: Sleep is an essential part of keeping the Sabbath. (**No, sleepy teenagers, I am not giving you permission to sleep till noon and skip church. That's between you and your parents.)
In Jewish theology, Sabbath is a great gift to us from God. God rested after creating the universe, setting aside the seventh day as something different and holy after six days of work. Even though Christians celebrate Sabbath on a different day, it is important to honor this still precious practice.
Sabbath is a holy time of "otherness." It is a day set aside for special things, and one of those is rest. I think our Jewish brothers and sisters have the right idea about prohibiting work on the Sabbath. When we rest, we recharge our minds and bodies. We practice care of the lives that God has so graciously gifted us. Stop thinking of sleep as just one more thing on your health list that panics you; think of it as a special prayer of thanksgiving.
Let your Sabbath begin at sundown. Stop working and racing around. Stop the channel surfing and constant searches on your phone. Implement practices that support spiritual well-being like reading Scripture or devotionals, taking a bath or shower to relax, meditating on all God's blessings in your life, or taking meaningful time to connect with your partner and children.
Then call it an early evening and, without guilt or going over the never-ending to-do list in your head, go to sleep.
Now I would love it if your Sunday morning included a visit to NorthPark Presbyterian, but if not, wake up refreshed and make your day holy in some other way. Just don't make it about errands.
Make sure your Sabbath includes restful celebration. Your health will thank you, and your creator will rejoice.