Prioritizing Sleep

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.

1 Peter 1:13

“Sleep is for the weak” I’d say all the time in college. Somehow I thought I could handle taking more credits than the “average” student. I could work more odd jobs than the “average” student. I could even have more networking opportunities than the “average” student. I worked hard to get ahead, and my pride grew with it.

Then, I got older. My need to achieve overcame my common sense and I cut as much sleep as I could so that I could squeeze one more good thing into my life. I still had the same habits and the same motivations—being better than “average.”

I also noticed another trend. The first prayer of the morning was, “Jesus, get me through the day, I’m so tired.” And I also noticed that each journal entry started with, “I’m tired. Grant me energy.” I drank more coffee, worked out harder, but didn’t pay attention to my sleep. My health suffered despite the exercise and upstanding (dare I say, “better than average”) diet.

I read Arianna Huffington’s “The Sleep Revolution” and it taught me about the serious issues a lack of sleep causes. It’s not just that you feel tired, it’s that you aren’t at your best. You aren’t alert and can’t relax on the couch of hope and grace. Striving, pushing, trying to be better than average; It can literally kill you if you’re not sleeping well.

For me, I read this verse and get caught on the words “alert and fully sober.” Fully alert to me means getting enough rest and sleep. It took me years to get to a place of health so that I can have a mind that is fully alert. Teetering on the edge of burnout, in 2013 I was involved in 9 different organizations, mostly on their leadership teams. I cut that back to 4 organizations. I had 20 goals to pursue (from not drinking caffeine to publishing a book). I cut those down to 5 goals. (I’ve heard that it’s best to have 3-5 goals, with 3 being on the better end of the spectrum.) I read a lot about simplification. I didn’t use Sundays as chore day, but instead made it relationship day or a chance to enjoy some good books.

Today, I’m learning even more about sleep. I’ve learned about the HRV (heart rate variability), which is not the total beats your heart takes per minute, but the consistency of the pauses between beats. The higher the HRV, the higher your energy level. What I’ve found so fascinating is that there’s no quick hack to up your HRV. What has changed my score is literally how I treat myself the previous day. And, catch this, it’s the whole day—not just the 30 minutes before I go to bed. If I am kind to myself and live in a place of hope and grace, I find that my HRV (and therefore my energy) is high the next day because I get good rest. If I find that I live in a place of stress and striving, my HRV is low during the night and I’m a wreck the next day—not at all fully alert or sober minded.

In my book (coming out Sept. 28), I talk about the importance of the basics of life. Sleep is one of those basics. Nonprofit leaders, are you setting the example for others by paying attention to the basics of your own life? How is your sleep?

What do you do to help you fall asleep? Share it on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Pre-order Hopelessly Hopeful During Separation, a 28-day devotional for people who are separated from their spouse because of marital struggles, before September 28, 2021. A pre-order helps make the book more visible on September 28. Thanks!!

Photo by Egor Vikhrev on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.