A Biblical View of Sleep

What is your typical attitude about sleep – do you love it, hate it, or love to hate it?

Maybe it frustrates you. The more elusive it gets, the harder you try… which only it makes it more elusive. Maybe you feel sleep is a sign of weakness. There’s so much work to be done that you can’t stop to rest. Or maybe the thought of sleep makes you anxious or depressed. You worry about it constantly, and start feeling overwhelmed by your struggle to rest.

Those are all common responses to the pervasive problem of sleeplessness. But have you ever realized that how you think about sleep affects how you actually sleep? <– tweet this!

If the very thought of sleep frustrates or overwhelms you, then you’ll go to bed each night feeling anxious and stressed, which will only hurt your ability to relax and sleep. If it feels like a chore, you will put it off and end up working far past your limit of effectiveness, then get up the next morning feeling grumpy and resentful.

But if you change your perspective of sleep, you will stop stressing about going to bed… your mind and body will be more equipped to handle whatever sleep deficit you may experience.

The only way to effectively change your perspective is to look in the one place that contains all truth: God’s Word, which promises to provide everything we need to pursue godliness, no matter what afflictions we may experience.

And it contains truth which relates directly to our pursuit of sleep. Consider the following:

1. God created sleep. It was not man’s invention. It is not something the devil came up with to tempt us with (although it can become a temptation). God created it in the very beginning of time when He put Adam into a deep sleep and formed Eve from Adam’s rib.

2. God created mankind with specific foundational needs. One of those needs is sleep. The required amount may vary from person to person, but we all need sleep: no person has been created who does not need to sleep, and to deny that is to deny God’s intention for His creation. It sounds simple enough, but how often do act like we know our physical needs better than the One who created us?

3. God created sleep for the benefit of man. Obviously, God Himself does not need to sleep – in fact, we are told in Psalm 121 that He never slumbers nor sleeps. Yet we see in Genesis that He did stop and rest after the six days of creation – not because He was tired but to establish a pattern for us to follow. We are also to regularly rest after working. God established that pattern not to limit us but because it truly benefits us both physically and psychologically. Sleep lets the body recuperate from daily activity, recalibrates the endocrine system, gives the brain time to sort through the day’s input and form long-term memories… Sleep is truly a gift from God!

4. God created you with unique limitations. You may have a medical condition which requires you to get more sleep than others, or which prohibits you from getting even the minimum amount of necessary sleep. You may be in a season of life which interferes with your ability to sleep, such as raising children or caring for an elderly loved one. Yet none of this is an oversight on God’s part: He knows your needs, and He has a purpose in calling you to this season of sleeplessness.

5. God is omniscient. God created you: He knows that your body was created to need sleep. He knows the limitations that interrupt or preclude your sleep. He knows how much sleep you think you need – and how much you actually need. And perhaps the most comforting truth: He even knows your needs for the day after you don’t sleep!

6. God is sufficient for any lack we experience. Too often we idolize the desire to be free from physical afflictions – like insomnia. Yet when the Apostle Paul begged God to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” he did not experience deliverance from his infirmity but deliverance through it. Rather than removing the affliction from Paul’s life, God reassured him of His all-sufficient grace and unfailing strength that could sustain him even in his weakest moments:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

biblical view of sleep

As hard or as frequent as those sleep-deprived days may seem, aren’t they worth it to discover how secure and substantial God’s strength really is?

When your brain betrays your body’s need for sleep, and you toss and turn all night struggling to rest, then have to get up and work the next day… that’s when you truly begin to understand that His divine strength will carry you through even your weakest moments.

And when you learn to rest in that truth, it will not only strengthen your relationship with God — it will also improve your whole attitude about going to bed each night! You won’t need to worry about whether you’ll sleep well. You won’t need to let anxiety take over at 2 AM. You won’t need to get up the next morning feeling stressed and overwhelmed after a night of tossing and turning.

Because God’s grace is enough to carry you through anything, no matter how weak you may feel.

What biblical truths have you learned about sleep?


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4 thoughts on “A Biblical View of Sleep

  1. When I do struggle with sleep I can use that time to be in prayer for others until I fall asleep again.

    1. I love that! I have found some of my most consistent intercession happens when I’m trying to get to sleep. It’s become a routine that I wouldn’t trade for anything!

  2. I never thought that a night of such little sleep could be turned into a way to glorify God and trust Him to get you through the next day. Thank you for sharing this truth!

    1. Thanks Kalyn!

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