I have always been a go-getter. I’ve never been able to sit still and I love to be doing stuff all the time. I know how to get things done, but there have been several times in my life when my desire to be productive has cost me in other areas of my life, especially when it comes to getting enough sleep. Through my experiences, I have learned that lack of sleep can sabotage my spirituality.
I paid my own way through college. I only had a scholarship the first two years, and since I didn’t want to be strapped with student loans after I completed my degree, the only other option was for me to work full-time and go to school full-time. I worked hard and I am proud of all that I accomplished during those years. I didn’t complete my Bachelor’s degree until I had been out of high school for 9 years, but I had the best feeling of accomplishment when I walked across the stage to receive my diploma.
To say I was burning the candle at both ends during college would be an understatement. I took classes early in the morning, then went to my office job and worked all day, then went back to school for night classes and studying. I definitely didn’t get enough sleep, and I was stressed out a lot. The lack of sleep affected how I treated others, how I performed at work and school, and mostly, how connected I felt with God.
I was at a breaking point one week, and I prayed to figure out how I could do better. A few days later I attended church and my bishop said something during a talk that changed my perspective and has influenced my life ever since. This is what he said:
Fatigue is the enemy to spirituality.
Boy, did I know that was true. I had been trying to run faster than I had strength and it wasn’t working out too well for me in any area of my life.
My prayer about how to overcome my stress had been answered. I needed to sleep more. I dropped a class at school and tried to get to bed earlier and life started to get better. It was an important lesson learned and I am grateful I learned it when I did.
There have been other times in my life that I have heard my bishop’s message in the back of mind. “Fatigue is the enemy to spirituality.” It’s easy for me to burn the candle at both ends, but I fight it and over the years have gotten better at getting enough sleep. Now, there are very few nights that I don’t get 7 hours of sleep. Here are some sleep tips that have worked for me.
Go to Bed Early
Whenever I am tempted to stay up late to get something done, I remind myself what the cost will be.
- I will run out of steam about 3:00 pm right when my kids need me the most.
- I won’t be as productive throughout the day.
- I will eat more junk and feel gross.
- I will not have the Spirit to guide me.
I know that these are my consequences for staying up late so when I am tempted to do it, I force myself to go to bed.
Get up Early Instead of Staying Up Late
If I go to bed early, I can get up early to get things done. I have found that when I have had a good night’s sleep, my mind is clear and I can get tasks done quickly. When everyone is asleep there are no interruptions. I am still amazed at the difference in an hour of productivity early in the morning when I am well-rested and an hour trying to accomplish something late at night when I am exhausted.
Have a Bedtime Routine
I have a few nightly rituals that help me get to sleep at night. First, I look at my calendar and make a list of want I need to accomplish the next day. Knowing what the next day holds helps me turn my mind off and not worry. Then I take a shower. Taking a shower makes it easier to remove my make-up and helps me feel relaxed. I also get in bed early enough so I can read something. Like writing my to do list, reading helps me turn my brain off. I usually doze off before I am done reading, so it’s just a matter of putting the book or my Kindle on the nightstand and turning off the light and I am out.
I know that there is a real connection between my spirituality, my relationship with God and others, and what I can accomplish in a day and the amount of sleep I get each night. I strive to have the Holy Ghost to be my guide and sleep is a big factor in accomplishing this.
How do you think lack of sleep affects you? What do you do in your life to keep your spirit close to God?
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