Science & The Spirit


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Health Helps Part 10

By Dane and Vicki Griffin

 Is getting to bed on time on your list of important things to do each day? If not, burning the midnight oil may be burning you out—in more ways than one! Michael Irwin, a psychiatrist, studied 23 healthy men who each spent four nights in a sleep laboratory. He found that when the men did not get enough sleep, their immune function dropped by 30%! When the men returned to normal sleep patterns, their immune systems also returned to normal. What a reminder that God made the beasts to go out after dark—not man!1

Early to bed, early to rise

Is it true that being early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise? Even though this saying is not in the Bible, our Creator did say something similar: “The sun ariseth. . . . Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.”2 But what happens when this is put to the scientific test? Dr. Thomas Weir from the National Institute of Mental Health has been doing just that. So far, his studies have shown something quite interesting: It seems that those who sleep in a “dusktodawn” pattern have higher levels of melatonin than those with late bedtimes and risings. Melatonin is a hormone that seems to have an important role in the regulation of sleep, mood, puberty, and ovarian cycles. People with low melatonin tend to suffer from chronic fatigue, insomnia, jet lag, and depression. They are also more prone to suicide.

Sealed instructions

The book of Job tells us, “When deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then He openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction.”3 Scientific research now shows how true this is: During deep sleep before the hours of midnight, the information we learned during the day is transferred from our short-term memory bank in the hippocampus to the permanent storage area of the brain. In fact, a study published in Science magazine showed that we actually absorb knowledge about recently-learned skills while we are sleeping! As the authors put it, “We and others have found that an improvement in perceptual performance occurs neither during or immediately after practice of a procedure, but rather eight to ten hours after a training session has ended.”4

Remember the fabulous four

On the average, Americans get 20% less sleep than they did a century ago. Don’t cheat yourself out of sleep! Instead, remember the four essentials of good sleep habits:

• Quantity. Do you want good immune function, a body that quickly repairs itself, a healthy nervous system, and balanced hormones? Then make sure you get eight to nine hours of sleep every night.
• Regularity. Decide on a regular time to go to bed and get up, and stick to your schedule. This helps your body establish regular biorhythms. Your reward will be hormones that stay in line and a lower risk of cancer.

• Timing. Consider an early-to-bed, early-to-rise routine. You’ll be in a more pleasant mood, your health will be better, and you’ll find it easier to learn. If you’re still growing, your development will be more normal.
• Quality. Did you ever sleep a long time and still wake up tired? Several things can interfere with good-quality sleep. Eating late, lack of exercise, and the use of caffeine and other drugs can seriously damage the quality of sleep. Many prescription drugs, including sleeping pills and antidepressants, can also cause sleep problems. Other sleep-wreckers include stress, television, harsh music, and bright lights.

Make it a priority

Your Creator understands your need for sleep, and He will help you plan it into your life. After all, Jesus told his weary disciples, “Come ye yourselves apart . . . and rest a while.”5 Don’t delay—make sure you have plenty of refreshing, restoring rest.



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