Why Sleeping is Not a Waste of Time


We spend at least 30% of our lives sleeping.

That's right. We spend close to a quarter of our entire life doing absolutely nothing

But before someone tells you that you're wasting your life by sleeping, keep in mind that God wired us this way. I guess you could say, God wants us to waste our lives a little bit.

One Good (God) Reason Why


Why would God make us in such a way that we are obligated to waste so much time every single day?

I really think it's to remind us that we are not gods. We are not God. We’re mere mortals.

Plus, we also image God when we work and rest. God made it a point to tell us: “on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested” (Gen. 2:2; emphasis mine).

Did God have to rest? No. But he did. Of course, many scholars have rightly pointed out that this language of resting on the seventh day (being complete and all) really means that this was supposed to be an eternal day (Sabbath rest).

If Adam and Eve had only listened to God, they would have entered into an eternal Sabbath rest. We know the story:

Surprise...They didn’t.

So we have to wait, hundreds of pages later, until the Second Adam—Jesus—comes along to enter into that eternal rest we all long for.

Enough of that for now.

God didn’t have to rest, but he did. So sleep is good. It's so good, one might say it's divine! ;)

Existentially, I sure know this to be true. Some mornings I don’t ever want to wake up. G and I both long for the day when we can sleep in again without the kids jumping on us early at the crack of dawn. 

(Side note: even blackout curtains don’t stop our kids from spotting the sun—their circadian rhythms just don’t care much about us sleeping in. We've also tried a bunch of stuff on Amazon—none of it does the trick.)

But God gives rest to his beloved. Rest was a good for God in creation, and rest will be a good in the new creation. Eternally resting from works because Jesus has done it all is eternally good for our souls.


The Many Blessings of Sleep

In the Bible, sleep brings us many blessings. God does stuff for us while we are sleeping.

  • While Adam was sleeping, God made his wife, Eve (Genesis 2:21).
  • While Abram was sleeping, God made a promise to him (Gen. 15:12).
  • While Jacob was sleeping, God made a promise to him (Gen. 28:11-16).
  • The Psalmist likens sleep to peace and safety (Ps. 4:8). 

And not in the Bible, all kinds of specialists tell us that sleeping heals us and has a myriad of benefits. For bodybuilders and athletes and weekend warriors, sleep refreshes and repairs and recovers. God does stuff while we are sleeping. He made us this way.

It’s never a waste of time to sleep.

There was a time when I was mad at God about this very thing. I thought God was mean by restricting us so much. We’re so limited, imagine how much I could do with less sleep and more time awake! Look at how productive I would be.

I even tinkered with the possibility of polyphasic sleeping to achieve something close to this. (That’s a crazy sleeping method where you only need to sleep for 4 hours a day, and have 20 other hours to be productive. Crazy right?)  

It would be neat to bring back bi-phasic sleeping though. That just sounds awesome. More reading, conversing, smoking and other things in the evening? Count me in! If you were up to gaze at the moon early this morning at 2am-4am, and then went right back to bed after that, you essentially became a bi-phasic sleeper last night. Congrats!

The Industrial Revolution and the modern convention of the clock changed that for good though. Bummer.

Okay, back to my original point.

Sleeping is not a sin. It’s a good gift from our benevolent, generous God.

So enjoy catching up on some Z’s tonight and don’t feel guilty for sleeping in occasionally. For mums and dads with newborns, please accept my sincere apologies for saying the "S-word." I know it hurts to hear about sleep when you’re barely sleeping! My wife and I have been there with our three little people—and yes, it's exhausting. 

Eventually though, we’ll all get it back. Actually, we are all getting it back slowly (at least in the States). 

According to the Times, Americans have gained a whole 18 minutes of weeknight sleep from 2003 to 2016. That's 1.4 minutes more sleep each year! By probably not changing much, so congrats everyone :). You did it.

Now we can all thank God for giving us more rest. Man, I love sleep.

This post was originally published on September 14, 2016 in a different form, and has been recently updated. 


Nicholas Davis

Rev. Nicholas Davis is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America.

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