Go to Sleep!

Woman sleeping
When you’re a youth pastor, conversations with teenagers will usually start like this:

“Hey! How’s it going?” I ask.

“Life’s OK. I feel quite tired though.”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard that response in the last month alone.

Of course, if I’m honest, I probably give that answer just as much as I hear it, and so do many people. Don’t believe me? Give it a shot. Listen to how many people complain that they’re feeling tired. It’s astounding.

Since when did it become so normal to feel so bad?

Sleep problems

I have no Bible verses to share today, just a few anecdotes and some sweeping scientific research that I can’t be bothered referencing from Ted Talks and various scientific journals.

In the 1920s-’50s, the average person slept about nine hours a night; today, that has decreased to about seven. Lack of sleep has been linked to:

  • the development of Alzheimer’s,
  • decreased growth,
  • increased fat build up,
  • inhibited motor function (being up 16 hours is the equivalent of having two beers in quick succession)
  • and a whole ton of other issues.

The human body hasn’t actually changed that much since 100 years ago, yet why do we think it’s suddenly OK to get almost three-fourths of the rest we used to?

Causes

Why is this happening? Well, there are several other factors that contribute to this phenomenon:

  • the prevalence of electric lights,
  • increases in job and academic demands,
  • a society that’s beginning to devalue sleep,
  • the constant vanity of Facebook and smartphones, to name a few.

However, the reason I’d like to focus on today — in a bit of light-hearted self-deprecation — is the rise of entertainment-on-demand. Or in short: YouTube. (We don’t get Netflix in Hong Kong, OK? Or Hulu or Crunchyroll or whatever.)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stayed awake for more than two hours past when I said I was going to sleep, because I was watching “just one more video” on YouTube. Sometimes I’m not even interested in what I’m watching, yet somehow I feel driven to click on yet another thumbnail that looks vaguely interesting with a title like “Epic Win Compilation 20/10/14.”

So a few months ago, I made the same deal with myself that I made for computer games the year before. No games after 10:30, no YouTube after 11. Of course, now I’ve started reading my Facebook feed, which is something I’ve never done before, so I think I’ll have to extend that rule out to “no internet.”

Taking care of ourselves

It’s stupid that we literally torture ourselves (remember, sleep deprivation is a form of torture) for the sake of silly little videos/games/notes that aren’t necessary and that will still be there in the morning. Sure, cats are cute, but they’ll be cuter in the morning when you’re less cranky.

We should aim to honor God with taking good care of our bodies, and that includes getting adequate rest. So try to go to sleep on time tonight, and maybe try it for a whole week! According to science, you should feel happier, be smarter, work harder, run faster and look better, among other things. Don’t believe me? Check out this video.

How many hours of sleep do you usually get a night? Has it always been like that, or has it gotten better/worse?  

Copyright 2014 Josh Loke. All rights reserved.

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