School's out for summer. Time to sleep.

Today is the last day of 6th grade and 2nd grade for Jonathan and Will.

They're excited. Their little brother, Ben, is excited. Lindsey and I are excited.

There's a reason Alice Cooper's "School's Out" has been playing in my head all morning.

Sleep.

As in, after 180 days of waking up at 5 am, I get to sleep in.

Well, all the way until 6 am.

Maybe 7 am. I'm thinking pretty radical this year :-)

But, seriously, I've come around on sleep.

How Coal Mining Changed The Way I Sleep

The summer after my freshman year of college, I worked at a coal refinery 30 minutes from my parents' home in Birmingham.

Hot, dirty work on a shift that started at 6 am.

Which meant that I was up no later than 5 am.

During...the summer.

Gross.

The funny thing is that I got used to that rhythm and when school started back up in the fall, I kept getting up early.

I like things to be quiet as I start my day.

I don't like to feel rushed.

I do my best work in the morning.

So, yes, I was the unicorn who wanted 8 am classes.

And for years, I got up early.

Before we had kids, I was in the office by 6 am. 

On Saturdays, I rarely slept past 8 am.

On Sundays? I'm not even going to tell you what time I woke up on Sundays.

Why?

Yes to all the reasons above.

Quiet. Not rushed. Best work.

I also took pride that I showed up before everyone else.

Ask some of my leadership team at the church about the long emails that would show up in their inbox at 4 am.

I know, I know.

But somewhere in the past 3-4 years my thinking and behavior changed about sleep.

Sleep - When Your Enemy Becomes Your Friend

No epiphany. No crisis. Nothing anyone said.

But here's what I know now. 

We need 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

The benefits of sleep include

  1.  Rebuilding what we break down in our bodies during the day
  2.  Rejuvenating our brains by removing adenosine from our system (which is a big reason why we feel tired)
  3. Reinforces what we have learned during the day

When you don't sleep well, you:

  1.  Increase the risk of medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.
  2.  Impair job performance (memory retention, verbal processing)
  3. Increase the risk of physical injury at work, during exercise, etc.

BTW, Much love to you if you have babies at home. You're gonna lose somewhere around an entire day's worth of sleep this week thanks to your tiny human.

And underneath the facts and figures about sleep, what I ultimately discovered is that my refusal to sleep more (and I had to come to grips with the reality that I didn't have to sleep less, I was choosing to) stemmed from a subtle yet insidious desire to control my world.

I had to work longer because what would happen if I didn't work hard.

I had to be in control because if I wasn't in control then who was going to take care of me, my family, my church, etc.?

And there's the rub. And the lesson.

Why I'm Sleeping 8 Hours Per Night This Summer

This summer I'm aiming to sleep 8 hours a night.

For me, that feels like sleeping my life away.

But I need it because I'm still learning the most basic of lessons.

God is in control. And I am not.

3 Things For You

Book of the Week - Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson 

I picked up Shawn's book last summer, and it took my growing convictions about sleep to another level. This isn't one of those 'extended blog posts that someone turned into a book.' Shawn gives you 21 research-based strategies for improving the quality of your life through the quality of your sleep. 

Tools I Use - Fitbit Charge 2

I started using a Fitbit this year to measure my heart rate during workouts. But the best benefit for me has been the sleep tracker which gauges the quality of my sleep, not just how long I sleep. 

This Week's Blog Post - How To Evaluate Sermons

Through my Preach Better Sermons program (are you part of the FREE Preach Better Sermons Facebook Group?), I get asked often about sermon evaluation. Makes sense, right? Most of us get little feedback from our congregation other than a sleep-deprived mom nodding off or the 'good job, preacher' that's required for people to get out of the building.

So in this epic blog post, I walk you through the exact steps you should take to evaluate your sermons. It's the process we've adopted in our church, and it has helped our preaching team and me immensely.

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