A Theology Of Sleep -- By: David P. Murray

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 06:2 (Jul 2014)
Article: A Theology Of Sleep
Author: David P. Murray


A Theology Of Sleep

David P. Murray

In a recent BBC article headlined The Arrogance of Ignoring Our Need for Sleep,1 leading scientists warned of the supreme arrogance of trying to do without sufficient sleep. We are sleeping between one and two hours less per night than people did sixty or so years ago, and it’s having a devastating impact upon every part of our lives.

In this article I want to highlight over fifty good reasons to sleep longer, then consider some of the reasons why we have got into such bad sleeping habits, and finally survey the Bible’s teaching about sleep.

Multiple Good Reasons To Sleep Longer

Over the last few months, I’ve been collecting research about the dangers of too little sleep, which I’ve summarized below.

Physical Consequences

  • Just one week of sleeping fewer than six hours a night results in changes to more than seven hundred genes.
  • Just one night of sleep deprivation is linked with signs of brain tissue loss.
  • Infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when we don’t get enough sleep.
  • Sleeping fewer than seven hours a night is associated with a tripled risk of coming down with a cold.
  • Sleep loss increases hunger, portion size, and preference for high-calorie, high-carb foods, with the resulting risk of obesity.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation (less than six hours a night) is associated with:

§ Skin aging.

§ Four times higher risk of stroke for middle- and older- aged people.

§ 50% higher risk of colorectal cancers, and some links with other cancers, too.

§ High blood pressure.

§ 48% higher chance of developing or dying from heart disease.

§ Lower fertility rates.

Sport Consequences

More and more elite athletes are increasing sleep and even hiring sleep coaches in order to improve performance. The reasons are obvious:

  • Chronic sleep loss can lead to a 30-40% reduction in glucose metabolism.
  • Sleep loss means an 11% reduction in time to exhaustion.
  • Two days of sleep restriction can lead to three times higher chances of lapses of attention and reactivity.
  • Maximum bench press drops twenty lbs. after four days of restricted sleep.
  • Rested tennis players get a 42% boost in hitting accuracy during depth drills.
  • Sleep improves sp...
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