Theology of Sleep: The Science of Sleep

Posted: 02/05/2010 in Uncategorized

So I like taking data, it is easy, impersonal and chart-able. Take any scenario, and over a season record how much, how often… and you can see if there are numerical not-so-coincidences. As I have been talking about sleep and studying to see what the Bible says about it, I thought I could also start recording what kind of sleep I’m actually getting.  In trying to determine what to keep track of I started with the following assumption:

more sleep = better day

Defining what a better day looks like was a little difficult, but I thought I would start with four specific data points:

Hrs Sleep Attitude Alertness Sp. Walk

Its taken me a little bit of time to compile the data but this is what I have (BTW all of the ratings are on a qualitative gut-feeling with 0 = awful; 10=fantastic)

Chart of My SleepData points below

Now I certainly realize that there are some concessions that I have to make.  8 or 9 on my alertness scale involves me not having to pry my eyes open every ten minutes… this is totally on a curve. Also the category of my spiritual walk is really, horrendously subjective; it often was tied to how I felt.  For example, there was a week that God was really working on my heart in the area of faithfulness, and I equated that to a series of bad days, and consequentially a series of low numbers.

Suffice it to say this isn’t a strong scientific experiment.  HOWEVER… it did lead to some interesting observations.

1) Not surprisingly, but there seems to be a direct correlation between my alertness and my sleep. The odd thing is that it usually seems to have a bit of a 24-hour delay.

2) My attitude is much more complex than my sleep habits. I definitely can feel a difference in my resilience to stressful situations, but my demeanor seemed to be tied to what I did during my day, what I ate and what I thought about.

3) Spiritual Walk. I’m not really sure where the overlap is here, I really don’t think I had a good rating system for this. I think that I lean on God the more exhausted I am, but I also miss a lot and am not very intentional in my time with Him. When I have slept well I can spend quality time in fellowship with God, when I am tired it is much more reactionary and chaotic.

4) One thing I did realize is that despite all of these categories, my general quality of life is hugely influenced by the amount of sleep I have.

Right now I am trudging through my day after a night of about 2.5 hours and while I think I’m doing well across the board, I can feel at the root of my eye a heaviness that wants to find a pillow. I have almost finished my bible study on sleep so I’ll write that out next.

Until then sleep well,


Date Hrs Sleep Attitude Alertness Sp. Walk
January 3, 2010 0 8 7* 8
January 4, 2010 2 7 5 8
January 5, 2010 3 5 4 7
January 6, 2010 4 5 3 8
January 7, 2010 3 8 3 6
January 8, 2010 3 3 2* 7
January 9, 2010 7 6 6* 7
January 10, 2010 5 4 8 8
January 11, 2010 8 8 9 6
January 12, 2010 6 5 7 4
January 13, 2010 6 5 6 8
January 14, 2010 5 3 5 2
January 15, 2010 6 1 4 2
January 16, 2010 6 2 6 5
January 17, 2010 3 5 6 8
January 18, 2010 8 5 9 8
January 19, 2010 7 3 7 7
January 20, 2010 6 3 6 3

* excessive amounts of caffeine consumed

  1. Kate says:

    Well, Michael Miller – I think that if you would sleep more, a theology of sleep would probably seem less theological & less complicated:) It’s a vicious cycle, though.

    I think your next batch of research should involve you charting the same things you charted here, but enforcing a consistent number of hours of sleep. I think that one of the variables compounding your sleep issues is that some nights, you get 2 hours & other nights, you get 8. I think it might even be better if you always got a low number in the sleep category as long as that number is always the same. Perhaps your body is confused & doesn’t know what to expect.

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