According to the Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night. However, only 60% of Americans are reported getting this recommended amount.
This statistic is a cause for concern since medical studies have shown a correlation between lack of sleep and health problems. For example, around 75% of people with insomnia are believed to also be affected by a mental health disorder.
As Christians, we are to honor our bodies for the glory of God. Therefore, it’s important to ask the following question: What does the Bible teach about sleep?
Our Bodies Are God’s Temple
The Bible declares that our bodies are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in our midst (1 Cor. 3:16). The Apostle Paul writes that whether we eat or drink, or whatever you do (sleeping), do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
Since sleeping affects our physical bodies and overall mental health, it is vital that we understand what the Bible teaches about rest and sleep.
From The Beginning God Rested
The first mention of rest is found in Genesis 2:2. After God created the Heavens and the Earth, on the seventh day God rested from all his labor. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.
To sanctify means to set apart as holy. This is why God established the pattern of regular rest when He set aside the Sabbath day as a holy commandment for the Jewish people (Exodus 31:16; Leviticus 23:3).
Furthermore, Adam, the first human created by God, experienced sleep when God formed Eve from one of his ribs. This is the first mention of sleep found for humanity.
Interestingly, this implies that normal sleep probably existed before sin entered into the world and is therefore part of the original creation.
Bible Discusses Positive Aspects Of Sleep
Sleep is considered a positive function for creation. For instance, Proverbs 3:24 states, “If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”
The Hebrew word for sweet, וְֽעָרְבָ֥ה, expresses a sweet and pleasant experience. Psalm 4:8 also adds to this idea. “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
We also know that Jesus, who was without sin, slept just like we did. In Mark 4:38, when Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion, the disciples woke him and said: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
So He got up, rebuked the wind and told the sea to be silent. When everything became calm Jesus said to his followers: “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
This story really encapsulates the function of sleep and rest. It’s all about trusting in the divine, sovereign king of the universe. When we sleep, no matter how difficult circumstances are in life, we are expressing our trust in God.
Worry, fear, and anxiety make it impossible to fall asleep. Jesus knew this because the disciples were afraid—demonstrating that they were not putting their faith in God.
So then, sleep is an act of worship that tells the Creator: I am not in control. I am merely a creature. I trust in you alone. Amen.
Bible Discusses Negative Aspects Of Sleep
Sleep is also conveyed in a negative way. Proverbs 6:9 declares: “How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from sleep?” Too much sleep can lead to laziness and poverty.
While God commanded us to sleep and rest, He also told us to labor and toil for six days. Proverbs 20:13 adds to this idea: “Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.”
Moreover, when Jesus was praying on the Mount of Olives, he returned to his disciples and found them asleep and exhausted from sorrow. Jesus said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you will not enter into temptation.”
Scripture informs believers in 2 Corinthians 2:11 that they are to “labor in prayer.” Since prayer is difficult, I think the disciples were being tempted to laziness and zeal for the Lord.
In conclusion, sleep is an integral part of our existence. It contributes both positively to our physical and mental health. Sleep honors the Lord because the Bible commands us to rest and recover. The act of sleep demonstrates our trust and reliance upon the Lord.
At the same time, oversleeping can be a vice. It can lead to laziness, poverty, and a lack of zeal for God. As Christians, we are commanded by God to work hard for six days out of the week so that we can enjoy rest on the Sabbath day.
This is what the Bible teaches concerning sleep and rest. I hope this article helped you gain a biblical understanding of sleep so that you can honor and glorify your Heavenly Father. Blessings to you!
Article written by Chad A. Damitz (M.Div)