Medical research has been exploring sleep for the last 20 years. Thanks to many great scientists and researchers we now understand the anatomy of sleep. However, the soul, despite being studied for thousands of years, remains illusive. We know there are intricate links between sleep and wellness for the mind and body, but what about the link between sleep and the soul or spirit? Now this is the domain of philosophy, poetry and religion.
I grew up saying prayers every night before bedtime with my mother by my side. It helped me settle in for the night. Years later, I still pray each night and I find it helps me fall asleep faster - it eases my anxiety; relieves guilt and regret as I ask Jesus to forgive me; increases my gratitude and helps me get a sense of perspective as I admire the greatness and vastness of God and the relative smallness of my life and troubles.
Sleep studies have shown that those who pray or meditate before bed, sleep better. However, the explanation for this is unclear. The religious books are full of references to sleep - from the Torah to the Bible, from the Kabbalah to the Quran. A well-known verse from the Quran is “And among his signs is your sleep by night and by day and your seeking of His bounty, verily in that are Signs for those who hearken” [verse 30.23].
It appears that all religions view sleep as:
- a sign of being at peace with your maker;
- a time of closeness to God
What they do not agree on is how this happens. Some believe that the soul rests quietly, others that the soul is rejuvenated by God's visiting spirit; and others believe that the soul travels out of the body via dreaming.
Whatever your religion or personal sleep philosophy, it cannot be denied that sleep brings peace and happiness. I firmly believe that the world would be a far less grumpy and hostile place if we all got enough shut eye. So here's to world peace, one good night's sleep at a time.