The Concepts of Rhythm and Time
The book of Genesis narrates the origin of how God created man from the dust of the earth. Because we were originally formed from the ground, we were designed to move naturally with the rhythm of the earth. There were no time constructs, regulating the day on a 24-hour system, only evening and morning. Ah...can you imagine a world with no schedules or constraints, just the evening and the morning! As the sun rose to meet the day, so did we, and when the sun descended for the evening, we retired, resting until the next day. Times certainly have changed.
Our innate physical rhythm has been overridden by the erratic rhythm of American culture. The inception of night shifts, mid-day shifts, weekend shifts, and 24/7 operations have created negative rhythms and unpredictable patterns that have caused us to veer extremely off of God’s original course concerning rest. Rest is one of the most quintessential cornerstones of health, yet it receives little to no attention. Rest encompasses adequate sleep and taking the time to stop all forms of work.
What Happens to the Body During Sleep?
While we are sleeping, the body undergoes a natural healing process, recovering from the wear and tear the body experiences throughout the day. During this time of healing, blood cells, heart vessels, muscle tissues, joints, and ligaments are repaired. Hormones and blood sugar levels are properly regulated and the immune system and brain functions are strengthened. If an individual continues to follow erratic patterns and schedules, and does not provide the body with enough sleep, the following illnesses and problems can occur (1):
High blood pressure
Poor decision making ability
Inability to control negative emotions and behavior
Prone to having more accidents on the job and while driving
America is a Sleep Deprived and Overworked Nation
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) discovered that millions of people are simply not getting enough sleep and many are suffering due to lack of sleep. Surveys conducted by the NSF (1999-2004) reveal that at least 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more. Most of those with these problems go undiagnosed and untreated (2).
More than 40 percent of adults experience daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their daily activities at least a few days each month, with 20 percent reporting problem sleeping a few days a week or more (3). Not only are adults being impacted by lack of sleep, 69 percent of children experience one or more sleep problems a few nights or more during a week (4).
These statistics present compelling evidence revealing that the direction we are headed in is not working. In order to bring your personal world into balance and alignment, proactive measures are necessary to guard the gift of rest.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to take rest late, to eat the bread of toil, for so He gives unto his beloved sleep.
How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?
The amount of sleep that each individual needs varies and is based on factors such as your age, exercise regiment, routines, and schedules, lifestyle, eating, and drinking habits. To operate at optimal levels, most health authority’s state 8 hours of sleep is adequate for every 24-hour period (5). It's imperative to learn how to listen to your body. If you are not feeling rested, ask yourself the following questions:
At what time do I feel most fatigued?
At what time do I feel most alert?
How long does the fatigue or tiredness last?
Do I fall asleep frequently at work or during routine activities?
At what time do I go to bed every night?
How do I feel upon rising?
These basic questions will help you to assess how much rest your body needs on a daily basis. Listening to your body is vital to determining whether or not you are meeting your sleeping needs. Once you determine how much you need, commit to make sleep a priority in your life, as well as protect your times of sleep. As you do, your body will begin to follow its innate rhythm for natural sleeping patterns. The results will yield an overall improvement in your health.
Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.
1. National Sleep Foundation https://sleepfoundation.org/how-america-sleeps
2. Why Sleep is Important http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx