By On May 28th, 2013

Better Sleep Habits Improve Self-Control

We face temptations every day, and often we cave to them. These temptations obviously range from minor negative choices such as eating a candy bar instead of getting something healthy or neglecting exercise, to real sins that are as harmful to our relationship with God as they are to our relationships with friends and family. Some struggle with temptation towards drugs, alcohol, or adultery.

To deal with these temptations we use self-control and our faith, but our understanding of self-control may be incorrect. We usually view self-control as something we either practice or don’t. Some assume we either have self-control or don’t. However, according to The Huffington Post, self-control may actually be a resource that can “be depleted and refilled over time.”

Imagine self-control as a gas tank, and when you run low, you are more likely to cave in to temptation. Too little self-control, and you are more likely to lie, cheat, relapse, or treat others poorly. How do we refill that gas tank? It turns out, the recent studies on self-control and unethical behavior show that sleep is one of the best ways to replenish self-control because self-control requires blood glucose as a fuel, which is regenerated during sleep.

Christopher M. Barnes and his colleagues have found that the average night of sleep (7-9 hours) is the best for managing self-control, and that losing as little as two hours of sleep leads to deviant behavior the next day. In other studies, researchers found that lack of sleep leads to eating less healthy and higher levels of interpersonally inappropriate behavior.

The best protection from temptation we can ask for is the word of the Lord, but we also rely on our own bodies and minds to keep us making the best decisions for a good Christian life. We’ve always known sleep is important for our health, but it may be better for our emotional and spiritual health than we ever imagined.

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