Franciscan Spirit Blog

The Power of Sleep

One of my favorite things when my daughter would come home from college was to make her breakfast, though most times I’d have to wait until late morning for her to wake. Now married and in the workforce, she stayed over our house recently and told me she’d be gone before I woke the next morning.

“What time are you getting up?” I asked.

“Five o’clock.”

“Five o’clock? Is this the same young woman who used to sleep until noon when she lived at home?”

Health experts agree that Americans aren’t getting enough sleep—an important ingredient to our wellness. And given the inordinate stresses we’ve faced lately, sleep can be almost elusive. Ilene M. Rosen, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, said, “We want to get people to think of sleep as important as diet and exercise.”



Restful sleep restores the body and the mind, as well as strengthens our immune defenses, which allows us to better fight infection and illness. Studies have noted substantial amounts of tissue repair and muscle growth that occur while we sleep. Additionally, adequate sleep can improve our cognitive function, concentration, reaction time, and retention of new information.

The optimum amount of sleep is seven to eight hours per night. Studies have linked less than seven hours with serious health issues including coronary artery disease, anxiety, depression, and accidents because of fatigue. Lack of sleep has also been linked to a shift of hormone levels that control appetite and cause obesity.

Listen to your body! Tiredness is a healthy body’s way of telling you it needs to restore.


Having Trouble Sleeping?

  • Stick to a sleep schedule—even on the weekends.
  • Wake up and go to sleep around the same time every day, including weekends
  • If you’re not asleep within 15 minutes, go to another room for 15 minutes and do something relaxing
  • Avoid caffeine-containing beverages and foods after 5 pm, or no later than 6 hours before bedtime
  • Don’t overeat or before bed.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol in excess
  • Tell your doctor if you have sleep related problems, or ask for a referral to a sleep specialist or sleep clinic
  • Be mindful of what you eat and drink before you go to bed. Overeating can cause discomfort, and drinking too much before bedtime can lead to interrupted sleep. Avoid stimulants like nicotine and caffeine in the latter part of the day. Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but it can disrupt sleep later in the night.
  • Physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and sleep sounder, but exercising too close to bedtime can energize you and keep you awake.
  • A cluttered mind hinders sleep. Reducing stress by keeping organized, managing priorities, and delegating responsibilities help quiet the mind at the end of the day.
  • Create a bedtime ritual: read, take a hot shower, listen to soft music, pray, or meditate


Restful Tips

Rest rejuvenates your body and mind, regulates your mood, and is linked to improved learning and memory function. Relaxation isn’t just about resting the body, but giving the mind a break as well. Make time during each day to rest.

Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and breathe deeply through your nose concentrating on a prayer. Try this for five minutes–optimally 15 to 20. If your mind wanders, shift your thoughts back to your prayer. Raise your shoulders up toward your ears and hold for five seconds. Roll one shoulder at a time, five to 10 times, and then roll both together. Return to your breathing. Try this before bedtime to bring yourself to a calm state.

When you lie down, you need not be afraid, when you rest, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

Minute Meditations


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