7 Tips For A Better Night’s Sleep

Psalm 4.8It’s no secret that being tired can lead to a lot of not-so-nice consequences. Everything from automobile crashes, to poor work performance, to foot-in-mouth statements, to giving in to temptations, to health issues are all traced back to not getting enough peaceful sleep.

But did you know that sweet sleep is something God wants to give you?

Psalm 127 says, “God grants sleep to those He loves.” Guess what? God loves you, and wants you to have a peaceful night’s sleep!

Here are some benefits to getting solid sack time:

  1. Muscles are repaired—the body “turns off” muscles during sleep so they can repair themselves.
  2. The hormone leptin, that regulates your appetite, is adjusted.
  3. Your blood pressure is lowered.
  4. Your heart rate is lowered.
  5. The energy-producing cells we all need are restocked.
  6. Your immune system is re-energized.
  7. Memories are consolidated from short-term memory banks to long-term memories.
  8. The hormones that allow you to concentrate are replenished.
  9. Your “database” of decision-making options is re-calibrated.
  10. Bottom line—you get healthier physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

All of this God wants to give to those He loves. “God loves me, so I’m going to sleep peacefully tonight!”

The problem is we often sabotage God’s blessing of sweet sleep by our own poor decisions during the day. So here are seven things you can do to cooperate with God’s blessing of sleep:

  1. Reduce stress. Stress causes your body to release cortisol, which prepares your body for fight-or-flight. This means when you’re trying to quiet down for the night, your body is still screaming, “Go, go go!” Stress is mainly triggered by worrying over things outside of our control, so check out what Jesus said to us about not worrying—Matthew 6:25-34.
  2. Reduce late-day caffeine. Caffeine has a half-life of six hours, so if you are pouring it into your body late in the date, you might fall into bed exhausted but the caffeine is keeping your brain buzzing. As a result, you don’t have the normal deep sleep patterns.
  3. Eliminate emotional caffeine. Arguments with other people release cortisol and adrenaline in your bloodstream. If these disagreements are happening later in the day, your body is fighting against God’s plan for your tranquil sleep. So take care of any disagreements quickly (Ephesians 4:26).
  4. Exercise. Getting some movement into your daily routine flushes cortisol and adrenaline from your bloodstream.
  5. Go to bed and get up at the same time. There’s a reason God made the sun to rise and set at predictable times. Your body also functions best on a predictable schedule.
  6. Reduce “blue lights” close to bed time. The blue light waves of dawn tell our bodies to stop releasing melatonin, the sleepy hormone. The red light waves of dusk tell our bodies to increase melatonin so we can go to sleep. But when we’re staring into the blue light of our phones and tablets, our body is being sent a conflicting signal.
  7. Pray. Two great passages you can pray before bedtime are Psalm 4:8 and Proverbs 3:24. Claim those promises of sweet sleep!

God loves you. He wants to give you the blessing of peaceful sleep. If you’re going to sleep peacefully tonight, make sure you are not sabotaging what God wants to give you.

Thursdays With Oswald—God’s Plan For Building Spiritual Muscles

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

God’s Plan For Building Spiritual Muscles

     If a man has used his arm only for writing, and then becomes a blacksmith, he will groan for days with the tremendous pain in the deltoid muscle until by practice the time comes when there is no more pain because the muscle has become rightly adjusted to its new work. 

     The same thing happens spiritually, God begins to teach us how to walk and over and over again we begin to howl and complain. May God save us from the continual whine of spiritual babes—“Teach us the same things over and over again, don’t give us the revelations of God which are painful, give us the ‘simple gospel,’ what we have always believed, don’t tell us of things we have never thought about before, because that causes pain” (Hebrews 5:12). Of course it does. 

     Thank God there is a pain attached to being saved, the pain of growing until we come to maturity where we can do the work of a son or daughter of God. … 

     Look back over your life in grace, whether long or short, and ask yourself which are the days that have furthered you most in the knowledge of God—the days of sunshine and peace and prosperity? Never! The days of adversity, the days of strain, the days of sudden surprises, the days when the earthly house of this tabernacle was strained to its last limit, those are the days when you learned the meaning of this passion of “Go.” 

From The Philosophy Of Sin

The only way to build physical muscles is to push them beyond their comfort level.

The only way to build physical stamina is to run farther than you have run before.

The only way God can build our spiritual muscles—and our spiritual stamina—is to push us beyond our comfort zone, to challenge us to go deeper and farther than we’ve gone before. Don’t push Him away. God loves you too much to leave you where you are!

Break Free From Porn—5 Quotes That Will Help You

The Porn CircuitThe Porn Circuit is a great book to make you aware of the dangers of pornography. You can read my full book review of this free downloadable book here, and check out the first set of quotes I shared by clicking here.

Here are some additional quotes specifically to help you break free from the hold pornography has on your life.

Your #1 strategy … LEARN TO HATE PORN!

Hate what it does to you, to your relationships, and to those involved in sex trafficking because of the porn industry.

#2 … Create some positive activities you can do when you’re tempted to look at porn.

“The prefrontal cortex is the decision-making logical part of the brain, and each time that a person resists temptation and each time a positive habit is reinforced, the prefrontal cortex gets stronger. That means a person’s willpower grows and the cues and cravings for porn use grow weaker.”

“This approach (of introducing positive habits) makes plastic sense because it grows a new brain circuit that gives pleasure and triggers dopamine release which, as we have seen, rewards the new activity and consolidates and grows new neural connections. This new circuit can eventually compete with the older one, and according to use it or lose it, the pathological networks will weaken. With this treatment we don’t so much ‘break’ bad habits as replace bad behaviors with better ones.” —Dr. Norman Doidge

“Whatever rewarding activity is pursued, it needs to be an activity that is reoccurring. Building new rewarding neural pathways requires time and ongoing repetition:

  1. Neurons that fire together wire together. Repeating a pleasurable activity instead of the compulsive activity, such as porn use, forms a new circuit that is gradually reinforced instead of the compulsion.
  2. Neurons that fire apart wire apart. When a person refuses to act on a compulsion, like porn and masturbation, it weakens the link between the activity and the idea that it will provide relief.”

#3 … Start using the 3-second rule.

“When watching TV, walking through the mall, or driving past billboards, temptation can strike when least expected. Many therapists recommend using the 3-Second Rule, which involves three steps:

  1. Alert: Realize that you see something inappropriate. It may only take a split-second to recognize a tempting situation.
  2. Avert: Close your eyes or look away. These first two steps should be instantaneous.
  3. Affirm: Give yourself a mental high-five to congratulate the effort. Say to yourself, ‘I saw that by mistake, and I quickly looked away. I’ve been clean for (xx number of days) and I’m going to stay that way.’”

3-Second Rule

#4 … Don’t forget to watch out for H.A.L.T. times.

“Physical care is vital to vigilance. HALT is the acronym often used by therapists to remind people of when they can be most vulnerable it stands for: hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Simply going to bed on a regular schedule to get a good night’s rest can help one’s brain be more focused on positive habits and more alert to fight temptations. Not only eating but also eating well can improve mood and feelings of well-being. Regular exercise keeps the mind more focused, the body feeling great, and improve sleep.”

Your Anti-Porn Plan

The Porn CircuitPerhaps a New Year’s resolution you made was to stop viewing pornography. That’s a great first step! I like these tips from CovenantEyes for helping you stick with your no-porn goal.

  1. Develop a game plan. Instead of retreating to porn, have a book to read or another activity planned.
  2. Get outside of yourself. When you focus on your circumstances, the temptation to escape comes calling. Serving others is the best antidote to a self-induced pity party. Ring a bell for the Salvation Army, visit a nursing home or work in a soup kitchen.
  3. Burn off steam and calories. Go for walks. Get some exercise in. Hit the gym with a friend.
  4. Reach out. Call a friend. Be open and honest about your feelings and temptations. (Keeping secrets breeds failure.)
  5. Avoid Facebook and social media. Comparing your life to the façade on Facebook only leads to more stress and loneliness.
  6. Don’t throw in the towel. If you have a setback, get back up and start over!

And I’ll add one more of my own:

7. Learn your triggers. Do you usually feel the urge to look at porn at night? when you’re tired? when you’re lonely? Know when your temptation is at its strongest, and be ready with one of the above strategies before the temptation flares up.

CovenantEyes has some great ebooks and other resources you can check out here. You also might want to add their accountability software to your devices.

YOU CAN DO THIS—YOU CAN BEAT YOUR PORN ADDICTION!

5 Quotes On Problem Solving From “Brain-Savvy Leaders”

Brain-Savvy LeadersCharles Stone’s book Brain-Savvy Leaders is chockfull of helpful information! When you understand more how your brain works, you can leverage its power more efficiently. Here are some quotes he shared about problem solving.

“Only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.” —Pope Paul VI 

“As a part of the C-system, the prefrontal cortex processes bits of information one after the other (serial) instead of several at the same time (parallel). … When we try to process too much information at once, the prefrontal cortex’s serial processing nature can result in mental processing bottlenecks that in turn can lead to unfinished thoughts and tasks. … When we attempt many mental tasks at once, our thinking degrades, accuracy drops, we focus on the urgent instead of the important, we forget things, and the quality of future decisions gets muddied.”

Coffee, caffeinated drinks (but not too many), exercise, and novelty can increase the amount of these neurotransmitters and get us into a more productive and focused state.”

“Charlan Nemeth, a psychology professor at the University of California-Berkeley, performed a creativity study in 2003. She divided 265 female students into groups of five and asked them to generate as many ideas as possible on how to decrease traffic congestion in the San Francisco Bay area. Each team received one of three conditions and was given twenty minutes to complete the task. Either they used the traditional ‘no criticism’ brainstorming technique, or they generated as many ideas as possible but could debate and criticize each one, or they received no instructions. The ‘debate and criticize’ teams generated 20 percent more ideas than the other two groups. … Debate…adds the element of surprise that engages the brain.”

“When trying to solve problems, encourage your team to imagine themselves a year from now instead of imagining themselves tomorrow. Studies show that this time perspective fosters more creativity.”

You can read my book review of Brain-Savvy Leaders by clicking here.

I have also shared other quotes from this book on learning, brain health, and emotional health.

7 Quotes On Brain Health From “Brain-Savvy Leaders”

Brain-Savvy LeadersCharles Stone gave us a very practical book in Brain-Savvy Leaders (you can read my full review by clicking here). Obviously out brain works best when we’re healthy, so check out some quotes from this book on brain health.

“Gratefulness is actually good for brain and body health.”

“At the end of our chromosomes lie protective caps called telomeres that are linked to longevity. Apparently, the longer your telomeres, all else being equal, the longer you live. Long-term stress shortens them, and mindfulness apparently helps lengthen them. For a Christian, mindfulness practices, such as meditation on Scripture and reflective prayer, which we often do in our devotional time, may possibly help us live longer.”

“The hypothalamus acts as a controller to the master hormone gland, the pituitary gland. … Chronic stress can damage our body and even kill neurons in the hippocampus. However, since the hippocampus is one of the few structures that can grow neurons, called neurogenesis, when stress decreases and cortisol levels out, the brain can regrow neurons here.”

“When we feel bored we don’t get as much oxygen and blood flow. When the brain lacks engagement over long periods of time (we are bored), dendrites can atrophy. When that happens, we can lose brain real estate.”

“Neuroscientists have found that stuffing, denying, or a ignoring our emotions reinforces them, affects short-term memory, increases blood pressure, and robs our brain’s prefrontal cortex of the mental energy it needs.”

“Chronic anxiety and stress cause what scientists call allostatic load…. When our body secretes too much cortisol over long periods of time, these problems can affect us: impaired immunity, weight gain, greater emotional reactivity, heart problems, decreased memory, and diminished brain functioning.”

“Exercise increases a key protein necessary for a healthy brain.”

I shared some quotes about how we learn from Brain-Savvy Leaders earlier, and you can read them here.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“‘Amen’ is an exclamation point of hope after a prayer for help.” —John Piper

“You ask ‘for what’ God wants you. Isn’t the primary answer that He wants you. We’re not told that the lost sheep was sought out for anything except itself.” —C.S. Lewis

A good read for Moms―Moms Need Theology Too.

And something for young men―5 Pieces Of Advice For Young Men.

Some United States Senators are more interested in making sure we can kill babies than they are in rescuing human trafficking victims.

Remember when your parents said, “Go outside and get some fresh air”? That advice may save your eyesight.

George Whitefield learned that God’s Word trumps our insights.

%d bloggers like this: