Parents, remember when you used to sleep?

Sleep is on my mind today.

I haven’t read it, but a friend tells me that James Bryan Smith (in The Good and Beautiful God) claims that sleep deprivation is one of today’s greatest inhibitors of spiritual formation. I’ve written about how technology enables our loss of sleep here.

Interestingly,  also came across this article about the health benefits of napping at Michael Hyatt’s blog. Hyatt quotes Winston Churchill on the benefits of a midday rest:

You must sleep sometime between lunch and dinner, and no halfway measures. Take off your clothes and get into bed. That’s what I always do. Don’t think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imaginations. You will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one—well, at least one and a half.

Rest and sleep are something of an ongoing challenge in the Gissing household at the moment.

As an infant our son Nathan (3 yo) slept very well. He began sleeping through the night quite early on, under six months. He has, however, always been an early riser. For a long time his regular waking time was about 6:00a. He’d also take a two hour nap during the day.

Then came the fateful day when we decided to get rid of the paci. Things have never been the same. He now no longer will nap in the day. If he does nap it is only because his level of exhaustion overpowers him–over the weekend he came out after quiet time (not quiet at all, by the way) and sat with me on the couch, he was literally nodding off sitting with me!

He will nap if I am at home and he lays with me on the couch (see left). It’s like in the absence of something and someone to keep him still and peaceful, he manages to keep himself awake doing all manner of things–even when he’s exhausted.

Napping together is a sweet thing, but it’s ultimately not sustainable.

I mentioned to a friend recently that getting married exposes a level of self-centeredness the we rarely know we have absent entering into that relationship. If that’s true, parenting takes us even deeper within our own hearts and exposes more of the issues we have. 

Writing about sleep and sleep problems, as well as parenting, is really about one thing–recognizing our limitations. Each of us has limitations of time, concentration, energy, etc. There is only so much that we can do to increase our capacity in order to meet the challenges of our day. We have to not only increase capacity where we can, but we have to focus and limit ourselves so we’re addressing on the right things.

Chief among those right things is rest and sleep–for big kids as well as little kids. The challenge this week is: what are you going to do to improve the quality and duration of your sleep?

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