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DEVOTIONAL: Use Your Performance Enhancing Power . . . Sleep

He maketh me to lie down… (KJV) –Psalm 23:2a

Do you ever feel like you’re barely hanging on, stressed to the max, and your tank is on E? There are many things in this world we can’t control, but the answer to these problems may be something you can control, and it doesn’t cost a dime, but just a little time.

Sleep.

Dr. Peter Attia, in his new book about longevity entitled Outlive, claims sleep is a kind of performance-enhancing behavior, not only physically, but cognitively. Just like exercise, sleep is its own kind of wonder drug, with both global and localized benefits to the brain, to the heart, and especially to our metabolism. 

Regarding brain health, many scholars now believe that a habit of deep, quality sleep can reduce the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Specifically, during sleep, pathways between brain cells open up and a special fluid courses through and cleans away the detritus and toxins that build up daily, akin to how street sweepers scour the roads. If left unchecked, micro-fragments can build up and form amyloids that impair brain function.

Writing about the many health crises facing most Americans and what we can do to get and stay healthy, Attia writes: “The good news is, we have tremendous agency over this. How we exercise, what we eat, and how we sleep, can completely turn the tables in our favor.

The bad news is that these steps require effort to escape the default modern environment that has conspired against our ancient and formerly helpful fat storing genes by overfeeding, under-moving, and under-sleeping us all.”

Citing Matthew Walker, Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California at Berkeley, Attia adds: ”Poor sleep can take a wrecking ball to both your long-term health and your ability to function day to day. When you look at the ripple effects of this across a society that places as little value on sleep as I once did, a devastating picture emerges. The decimation of sleep across industrialized nations is having a catastrophic impact on our health, our life expectancy, our safety, our productivity, and the education of our children.”

The Bible has a lot to say about sleep.

  • “If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” (Prov. 3:24 ESV)
  • “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” (Ps. 3:5 ESV)
  • In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves. (Ps. 127:2 NIV)

Not only is nighttime sleep crucial, naps can do wonders too to reduce stress and give your body and brain a mid-day reset. Do you think midday snoozing is for lazy people? Some famous nappers include “The Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher, Thomas Edison, President John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and the person who perhaps more than anyone else saved civilization during WWII, Winston Churchill.

Noted pastor and Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll has remarked, sometimes when you feel stressed out and “at the end of your rope,” the “most spiritual” thing you need is not more Bible study or prayer – but a good sleep.

To conclude, here’s a wonderful resource for you. Ryan Breslow, the tech entrepreneur has written in detail about habits that help you fall asleep faster. It’s a powerful list of habits to improve the quality of your sleep and feel better.

S.G.D./S.D.G.

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