Sleep It Off

Brad M. Griffin | Mar 10, 2011

Sleep is more important than food.

Thats the premise of this HBR blog post by business consultant Tony Schwartz on research in sleep and productivity. While many of us—me included—try to convince ourselves otherwise, research has shown that only about 2.5% of us need less than 7 hours of sleep a night. That means if youre not getting 7+ hours, youre likely not getting enough.

Of course there are all kinds of reasons for this, and if you have kids this takes on a whole reality out of your control (like my 2-yr-old this past few weeks). But what about the reasons we can do something about?

As much emphasis as we put on eating well in our culture (or at least the idea of eating well), we talk a whole lot less about sleep. In fact, as Schwartz observes:

We continue to live by a remarkably durable myth: sleeping one hour less will give us one more hour of productivity. In reality, the research suggests that even small amounts of sleep deprivation take a significant toll on our health, our mood, our cognitive capacity and our productivity.

Many of the effects we suffer are invisible. Insufficient sleep, for example, deeply impairs our ability to consolidate and stabilize learning that occurs during the waking day. In other words, it wreaks havoc on our memory.

We’ve literally lost touch with what it feels like to be fully awake.

Youth ministry culture has largely ignored the research about sleep and Sabbath rest, unless were talking about teenagers poor sleep habit. Im talking about adults here. Even when we work to practice some sort of Sabbath, were often still not sleeping at the baseline level of healthy.

Perhaps its time we dragged this one out of the closet and talked about it. What do you think?

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, writer, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of over a dozen books, including 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and Can I Ask That? Brad and his family live in Southern California, where he serves as Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries at Mountainside Communion.


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