Why Not Try This? …Take a Nap

Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap!

Last June I was dramatically reminded of this. Danesa, our fourteen year old daughter, was graduating from eighth grade. The whole week was fast-paced. Then the weekend schedule went like this–

  • Thursday- busy morning and afternoon, graduation and sponsor a party/social/spiritual commitment till midnight, to bed at 2am
  • Friday- busy morning, afternoon then welcome Sabbath and relax
  • Sabbath- non-stop ministry from Sabbath School through vespers and Saturday evening, late to bed
  • Sunday- busy morning and afternoon; received news of tragic death of Pastor Len Atkins in Upper Columbia Conference, received news that a former first elder and good friend in a previous district had only a few months to live, spent time with the family visiting from out of town for the graduation…

Many of you have probably had busier and more emotionally draining weekends than this. But I can tell you that by Sunday afternoon I was running on fumes.  With company still visiting in our home I felt awkward telling them I was going to go take a nap in the middle of the afternoon. But I knew I needed one.

I went into our bedroom, closed the shades, crawled into bed and took a wonderful twenty minute nap. When I woke up, climbed out of bed and opened the shades I was a new man! I could think more clearly, I wasn’t as lethargic and I could enjoy everyone’s company so much better!

Then I realized how Biblical it was to take a nap! Consider these examples–

  • Elijah took TWO naps after his exhausting experience on Mt. Carmel and flight from Jezebel who was out to kill him (1 Kings 19:1-8)
  • Jesus took a nap in a boat on the Sea of Galilee after an intensive missionary tour and teaching ministry (Luke 8:22-26
  • Jonah needed a nap after running from God (Jonah 1:3-6)
  • God put Adam to sleep so He could create a wife for him. I’m sure he felt totally rejuvenated when he woke up (Genesis 2:18-25)!

This goes completely contrary to our American workaholic cluture, where being busy all the time is valued highly. Yet even American business executives are discovering the value of short mid-day naps (Read story). Many Latin cultures have had a siesta embedded into their daily routines for centuries. Ellen White tells us that Jesus Himself needed to turn aside from a life of “ceaseless activity” to “to seek retirement and unbroken communion with His Father.” (See Desire of Ages, Chapter 38 “Come Rest Awhile”)  Evidently the “retirement,” or break, from constant activity was necessary to maintain his unbroken communion with His Father.

Dr. Neil Nedley, a popular Adventist physician who frequents the campmeeting circuit, wrote Depression: The Way Out, He points out that sleep habits can have an impact on depression, a huge problem in America today. To get to sleep, whether at night or while taking a nap, he recommends–

  • No noise or “white noise”
  • Hold the same position 20 minutes
  • Eyes shut or darkened room
  • Bright light for one hour within 30 minutes of awakening
  • Naps are not a substitute for regular bedtime

That last item Dr. Nedley mentions is my challenge. When I need a nap I need to take one. But needing a nap is also a reminder that I may need to reorganize my daily or weekly schedule to allow for more regular sleep earlier in the evenings and more margins between my commitments during the day.

Ellen White makes this profound observation. “I know from the testimonies given me from time to time for brain workers, that sleep is worth far more before than after midnight. Two hours’ good sleep before twelve o’clock is worth more than four hours after twelve o’clock. . . .” {Manuscript Releases vol. 7, p. 224.3}

That’s what I really needed- more sleep earlier in the evenings. In any case, I am glad I took that nap last June. And I’m sure I’ll take more from time to time. In fact, I wonder if I should plan to get to bed earlier tonight or just take a nap right n……. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Blessings to you,

Dan Serns

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