I used to be the kid, teen and young adult who got up first and helped everyone else. But when my son was born, and I began working on-call nights at the hospital, sleep became more precious and my life got more out of kilter. I found myself staying up later, sleeping later, and worse off when I woke. I know that part of it was the hours, and part of it was the being awakened at night.
But I also know that for me, like many of you, part of it is controlled by my choices.
We are created to sleep at night and be up and awake at day. For thousands of years, that has been the habit of humanity.
But since the advent of electric light, that has changed. For many of us, rhythms of our families and habits have changed that. I know some kids who are up until 2 or 3 a.m. as babies and young children. By the time they hit school, their natural body clocks are so disturbed that they never overcome them.
We also push ourselves- because of overachieving, because of lack of planning, because of the things we take on ourselves, or the "fun" we want to have, we ignore our bodies' needs for sleep. We push longer, fight deadlines, and give up sleep to do what we want. That works once or twice, but eventually becomes a deficit we never recover from.
But the hardest thing to overcome about our need for rest is peace. We have brokenness- things we and others have done, habits, addictions, medications sin, guilt and hurt. When we don't deal with these before a God who loves us, and make relationships right with others ("as far as it lies with you" scripture says), we lose REST even if we sleep. We fight fears and imaginations, guilt and loss in our sleep, and wake exhausted.
We need to find 7-8 hours a night of rest. It needs to be free of tension and conflict. When we seek God first (not our goals, ambitions, bad habits, activities or relationships, or what we feel we "have" to do), we find the peace that passes all understanding, allowing us to be healthier, live longer, and love God and others better.
Seek first, plan rest, and all these things will be given to you!