4:00 a.m. and I was wide awake. Why? Was it a dream or indigestion or the noise from a train that disturbed my rest? I wasn’t sure of the cause but I was sure of the effect. I got up, made coffee and then began to think about sleep.

There are a lot references to sleep in Scripture. The first one is in Genesis 2:21. God makes Adam sleep so he could wake up to a woman (not a bad night’s rest for Adam!). The story reminds me of the song Solomon wrote for people to sing on their way to Jerusalem (Psalm 127:2). Sleep is a gift from God.

According to scientists and doctors (and my mom while I was a kid) we humans really need this gift. One blog post I read listed 12 psychological benefits of sleep (obviously there are physical benefits as well). Here are a couple that struck me. Apparently, while we sleep our minds are cataloguing memories and deciding what to keep and what to throw away based on emotions within the memories. Sleep also gives our brains and bodies a chance to reinforce something we already know (e.g. improved motor skills like playing a piano). And sleep fosters healthy relational connections (ever notice your response to people when you woke up on the wrong side of the bed?!).

These are three benefits we enjoy because of God’s gift of sleep. So let’s make it a habit to thank him every morning for such a wonderful gift (even if only lasted until 4:00 a.m.!).