Sleep When You Want to Sleep

A while back I posted Steve Childers’ 7 Ss for church planter survival and sanity. To review, they were:

1. Sleep.
2. Sun.
3. Solitude.
4. Sabbath.
5. Sex.
6. Sweat.
7. Sustenance.


It turns out I’ve already posted on 3 of the 7 Ss:

And since, as I write this, I should probably be sleeping, and, indeed, I desire to sleep, tonight it’s … Sweat. 

Just kidding. Sleep.

Traditional Wisdom

Early to bed, early to rise. That’s what they say. 

If this is you, good for you. You get to experience more daylight than the rest of us. You’re probably super productive before breakfast. Nothing wrong with this. 

Radical Non-Wisdom

One of my favorite theologians is John Owen. Owen produced tons of scholarly and pastoral works in the 17th Century. He also slept less than 4 hours each night until he was old. 

He also got old a lot younger than most of us will. And when he was old, he regretted punishing his body and mind in his younger years. He believed that his health suffered, perhaps along with his soul (if we read between the lines a tad). 

There is a foolish “radical” stance toward sleep that says it’s for when you’re dead. But you’re really dead without it. 

Surprising Doctoral Wisdom

I was delighted to read in the biography of the great 20th-Century Welsh preacher Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones — who was, mind you an MD, not a PhD — a surprising bit of counsel on sleep. What are the doctor’s orders? 

The Good Doctor believed that we are psycho-somatic unions. (That means we’re soul-bodies.) Because of this, the life of our soul and the life of our body are intimately intertwined. 

And so, if you’re feeling tired and want to take a cat nap, the Doctor says … go for it. If it’s 2pm. If it’s 10am. 

Let’s not forget that a big chunk of our hemisphere practices Siesta. And most of Europe takes loooonggg, leisurely lunches. 

Unsolicited ‘Wisdom’ 

My take on all of this is simple:

Sleep when you want to sleep. 

Are you productive late at night? There’s no rule that says you have to be a morning person to be a productive person. 

Are you an up-before-dawn kind of person? Kudos. Hit the sack at 9pm and get more done before breakfast than I do all morning.

Look, the reality is that you’ve got to juggle your own predisposition, your marital and familial rhythms, your vocational responsibilities, and the other restraints that come with your season of life. And you have to fight against both sloth and workaholism. And depending on your soul-body, you probably need 6-8 hours per night. 

Beyond these things, sleep when you want to sleep. 

But do definitely sleep. 

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