I have a Messiah complex. It’s one of my major issues in life. I think unless I do it, it won’t get done or it won’t get done effectively. After all… if I don’t do it all, then who will? Therefore, I stay up late and rise early in order to get it all done and done well. In my foolish mind, at times, I believe the weak need more sleep and the successful leader and influencer sacrifices sleep for progress.
While technology and caffeine may allow us to cheat sleep, our bodies won’t. We weren’t designed biologically to live without sleep/rest.
Psalm 127:1-2 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. I know in my life, I have done a whole lot of building in vain. That’s why I knew I would hate the Sleep14 challenge.
What is the Sleep14?
My workout group recently completed a 14-day challenge called the Sleep14. I typically dread our workouts together because of the level of difficulty. But, as much as I dreaded our workouts, I dreaded the Sleep14 even more. Here are the specifics of the Sleep14.
Each day the sleeper has 5 opportunities to make a decision on rest, hopefully turning more rest into a new habit. For some, the Sleep14 will not be much different, but for others it will be a big change. There are consequences (burpees) for other members of the workout group for each infringement of the Sleep14.
The 5 Requirements are:
- You must lay in bed for at least seven hours a night.
- You must wake up at the same time every day.
- No caffeine for 10 hours before bed.
- No close-by lit technology for three hours before bed.
- No problem-solving for three hours before bed.
Butt kicking… I fall into the category of ‘big change.’ And, ironically, I loved it. Here are Eight Lessons I Learned from the Sleep14.
- Jesus is still on the throne. Whether I get 10 hours of sleep, five hours of sleep, 5 minutes of sleep or no sleep at all, Jesus is still on His Throne, seated at the right hand of the Father. The biggest reason why I get so little sleep most nights is because I think I am much more important than I really am. I believe the lie that somehow things will fall apart if I do not push myself hard and work enough hours. The trap is that I can always do more, and at some point, I become less productive than I would if I actually got more rest.
- The incredible value of community. I loved knowing that my actions affected other people. If I made the decision to drink a cup of coffee at 6:00pm, someone else was going to have to pay the burpee price for my decision. In the same way, others pay the price for my decisions on a constant basis. This holds true for all of us. The Sleep14 reminded me that my actions affect others.
- In the same way, I was again reminded of the value of encouragement. When I was struggling, I know I could text Ryan or Brett and ask them to pray for me and hold me accountable. It is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18).
- I can say no to something I want and not be miserable. I am not used to denying myself something that I want. For the most part, for the past 41 years, I pretty much eat or drink what I want and eat or drink whenever I want. The Sleep14 caused me to say no to coffee, email and late night television.
- I didn’t feel better, per se. I thought for sure I would feel much better if I got seven hours of sleep every night for 14 days. Truth be told, at the end of the two weeks, I don’t think I felt much better. I am still glad I did the Sleep14, but it didn’t have the results I thought it would have.
- I got a lot more done in the morning. The 5:00am wakeup call without a snooze gave me more quality time in the morning without any interruptions. The house was quiet and the distractions were completely absent. I loved it.
- My NCAA bracket still stunk and the scores of the games didn’t change even though I went to bed before a game was over. I turned an NCAA game off before it was finished, and they actually kept playing the game and the result has nothing to do with whether or not I watched the game! Of course this is true, but sometimes I get way too caught up in games. It was good to just let it go…
- The Sleep14 forced me to plan ahead every night. I put out my clothes, planned my day, packed my bags and made my breakfast and lunch in advance. I was much more efficient during the Sleep14 because I had to plan and prepare in advance.
What am I still doing today?
Now that the Sleep14 is finished, did it have any impact on my life?
In some ways, no. For example, it’s 10:48 at night, I am working, watching tv, haven’t packed my bags, just had a cup of coffee and I am still getting up in six hours.
But, in general, I have cut down my afternoon caffeine, have planned and prepared in advance most days, and I still get up at 5:00am every morning. The early morning wakeup without the snooze button makes it worth it on its own. In the two weeks of Sleep14, my body has been trained to get up earlier, which allows me more uninterrupted time when I am most productive.
Our sleep, or lack of, affects our lives and our wellness in every way. Our sleep affects our health, our relationships, and our productivity. Why would we not try to take better care of ourselves by getting more sleep and developing better sleep habits?
- How’s your sleep/rest? Do you have a Messiah complex like I do, one that leads you to sacrifice sleep in order to get more done?
- Of the five requirements of the Sleep14, what can you do differently to get more rest?
- Ask your spouse or community if they think you get enough rest.
- For more details on the ‘why’ of each of the 5 requirements, read this post by the Porch team at Watermark: 5 Keys to a Good Night’s Sleep.
Image Credit: Gratisography.com