Did you miss Secret #1? Catch up with this post!
There is another secret weapon I need to share with you that is really no secret at all. Most of us know we should do it. Our parents tried to instill this practice in us when we were kids (at least they should have). But we seem hard-wired to fight it no matter what our bodies tell us.
If my big secret is GET UP EARLY, then my other big secret is...GO TO BED WHEN YOU GET TIRED.
If you just made an exasperated sound when you read that, you are probably the very person who needs to take this advice.
I am not kidding when I tell you that I am deeply troubled by the research and statitics I am reading about the sleeping habits of Americans in general and those of ministers in particular. Archibald Hart, a professor at Fuller Seminary (and a medical doctor and possibly the world's greatest authority on adrenaline fatigue and sleeping issues) has been sounding the alarm for years, begging people to change their lifestyles to a more healthy way of living. Bottom line? You are not healthy if you do not rest. And you can not rest if you stay up too late.
I can hear the objections. Here are a few of them...
But I am naturally a night owl.
I do my best work after midnight.
I accomplish more when everyone else is in bed.
If I try to go to bed early, I will just lay there for 4 hours and be frustrated.
I can fall asleep at 10 PM but then I will wake up at 2 AM and never go back to sleep.
Staying up late (and the excuses we use to justify it) are all learned behaviors. Nothing more than habits. Unless you work a job that requires you to stay up into the early hours of morning, you really should consider going to bed early, not only because it will allow you to get up early and enjoy all the benefits of that personal discipline, but because it is actually better for your overall health. Here are a few bullet points for you to consider regarding going to bed early...
1. Every hour of sleep you get before midnight is equivalent to 2 hours of sleep after midnight. You double your rest by going to be early.
2. Your body heals itself from resting more efficiently than from proper diet and exercise (though we need all 3).
3. Your brain is most effective when well rested because that is when it's blood flow and oxygen levels are replenished and balanced.
4. You're more emotionally healthy when you sleep well, largely because you are in a better, more positive frame of mind, and small things don't cause you stress and anxiety like they do when you are fatigued.
5. Staying up late is learned behavior and it can be undone by cutting out most caffeine, turning off electronic stimulation, switching off phones and computers and music and televisions by 8 PM (for most people this takes a few weeks to see results).
6. 30 minutes of physical exercise with an elevated heart rate done during the day has a better effect on going to sleep than pills and alcohol.
7. 30 minutes of reading while lying in bed has a stronger sleep-inducing effect than sleeping pills with no harmful side effects (I do this almost every single night).
8. Any substance used for more than 2 weeks to help you fall asleep is habit forming and has long-term negative effects, including all natural substances like Melatonin and Valerian Root (as well as Ambien, Lunesta, Tylenol PM or a glass of wine, though there are times when these supplements are needed and necessary...but only for short seasons).
9. Our bodies have natural rythms and they talk to us, but most of us ignore our bodies when they tell us to start preparing for bed between 9-10 PM every night. Then we get our "second wind" and waste precious time doing meaningless things that we could do by getting up early instead of staying up late.
10. In America, only about 20% of the population gets the sleep they need or ever feels adequately rested. This is an epidemic.
In order for me to get up between 5 and 6 AM (which is usually when I arise), I simply have to go to bed before 11PM. Trust me, if you are getting up every morning that early, your body will force you to go to bed at 9 or 10 PM because it will just shut down.
Ask yourself if you would be willing to make the difficult adjustments in your lifestyle in order to create a more healthy and sustainable rythm to your life. It will honor God and be a blessing to you. You will be a more pleasant person and your family will notice the difference. It will seem impossible at first, but once the habits begin to change, you will slip into a more sustainable work / rest cycle and you will be a healthier, happier person.
Does this sound hard to you? What is holding you back from making this change?
Learn more about Clayton King.