3 Reasons Behind our Sleeplessness

College students chronically under-sleep. And they're not alone.

Though human beings have more free time than ever, we still don't get enough sleep.

Check out this quote from NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children

It is an overlooked fact that children—from elementary school through high school—get an hour less sleep each night than they did thirty years ago. While modern parents obsess about our babies’ sleep, this concern falls off the priority list after preschool. Even kindergartners get thirty minutes less a night than they used to.

Why do you think that is? Here are some of my theories ...

Trying to do more

I find myself consistently overfilling my schedule. There's always so much to do. And there's a cost to sleeping. The extra hour (or three) I dedicate to get to my optimum sleep rate has to come from somewhere.

Everyone feels the press and pressure to get more done. Maybe it's work. Maybe it's family. Maybe it's entertainment or social media or antisocial media.

Could this be a contributing factor to our sleeplessness?


In her beautiful and robust call for a restoration of Sabbath, Judith Shulevitz talks about a restlessness and what she calls "the eternal inner murmur of self-reproach." For her, anxiety and gloom made it difficult to rest (check out her excellent essay: Bring Back the Sabbath)

The Psalms diagnose this condition as well "In vain you rise early and stay up late, for the Lord grants sleep to those he loves" (Psalm 127:2). Our sleeplessness reveals a lack of confidence that God is at work on our behalf, continually, in the world. What else could we do, if we truly doubted that God worked while we slept, what else could we do but rise early and stay up late? It's on us.

Could this be a contributing factor to our sleeplessness?

Lack of discipline

Here's my last guess: many of us experience sleeplessness because we haven't established stable rhythms in our lives. We don't go to sleep at the same time every day, so we don't feel sleepy at bedtime. We work at our computers or watch TV right up to bedtime (which has been shown to trick our bodies into thinking it isn't time to sleep). We dose ourselves with coffee and sugar to stay awake.

I say "we" but I don't know about you. I find that I do all these things. Even though I know that small changes in routine would help me to sleep more and sleep better, I do not do the good I want to do. What is this but a lack of discipline?

Could this be a contributing factor to our sleeplessness?

What am I missing? What else is causing our sleeplessness?

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