Well, not quite.

But I am trying to learn from violinists.

In Anders Ericcson’s famous study, concert violinists reported that except for practice itself, sleep was the second most important factor in improving as violinists. The top performers slept an average of 8 ½ hours out of every 24, including a 20 to 30 minute midafternoon nap. That’s 2 hours a day more than the average American!

So why do we (pastors especially?) continue to sacrifice sleep in an attempt to be more productive?

As Tony Schwartz points out in Sleep is more important than food, the research is unanimous: “even small amounts of sleep deprivation take a significant toll on our health, our mood, our cognitive capacity and our productivity….Many of the effects we suffer are invisible. Insufficient sleep, for example, deeply impairs our ability to consolidate and stabilize learning that occurs during the waking day. In other words, it wreaks havoc on our memory.”

The myth of sleep less do more
Speaking personally, I know in my heart of hearts that Tony is right, at least in the long-term. However, in the short and medium term I find that I can drive myself to do more by sleeping less. That’s probably why the myth of “sleep less, do more” persists for most of us. It appears to work.

However, over the past year I’ve become increasingly aware that although the quantity of my work may increase by sleeping less and working more, the quality definitely decreases, and so does my enjoyment in what I do; it becomes more duty than delight.

In my mid-forties now, I’m also finding that sleeping too little impacts my bodily health in a way it didn’t when I was in my twenties and thirties. I hope I’m not beginning to reap what I sowed in the 5-hour-average-sleep days of these 100mph years.

And, even more seriously, the less I sleep, the more my relationships with people and with God suffer. And no amount of prodctivity is worth that.

If sleep is a gift of God (Ps. 127:2), why do we leave it unwrapped?

  • Cornelius VanKempen

    What a suprise, and yet not because just this morning in my devotions read a portion from Spurgeon from Psalm 2 where God gives His beloved sleep, and not only them but He says that sleep is the best medicine for our bodies. There is also a warning because without God there is no real rest. The Jesus says in His word, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” This then is the only rest that shall profit. Even though God blesses us with sleep here outside of Him is only unrest.

  • acoustic violin

    One of the hardest violin lessons is that of achieving excellent posture. The fact is that a good posture , once learnt, will be the basis of how well you play and also how much effort you put into merely standing rather than concentrating on how you play violin. Put in the work early on and you’ll benefit for life.

  • Cornelius VanKempen

    When we see that the hardest thing about playing the violin is posture, I think about how hard it is to worship God!  Yes, it is so hard that the harder I try the more I realize that what I do is not really worship at all! Why is this? Well sin has filled our hearts and so no-matter how hard I try It just becomes more impossible.  What then is necessary? We need a teacher, but one that has no sin and is perfect! The Bible says, “that there is none righteous on not one” Where can we find such a teacher? God’s word says, that Jesus Christ came and kept perfectly all of the commandments and full-filled all righteousness.  That’s just what I need!  Happy day when that becomes a reality for me.