I recently noticed a correlation between the stages of healthy sleep and a healthy devotional life.
Stage 1 of sleep is the transition stage from the waking state to the sleeping state. In healthy sleepers, this dozing stage is usually short, less than 5 minutes.
After stage 1 sleep has progressed to stage 2, the brain goes on autopilot. This autopilot phase of sleep allows for the reinforcement of recent brain pathways, enhancing memory. The focus and attention centers are at rest while the brain does its routine maintenance. All incoming sensory input and outgoing motor input ceases. Stage 2 sleep is the first step in reinforcing new memories.
Approximately 60% of healthy sleep will be spent in the reinforcing maintenance of stage 2. Stage 2 will precede and follow the other stages of healthy sleep for the rest of the night. Stage 2 is the necessary background glue that holds healthy sleep together. Without stage 2, the more specialized sleep stages (Stages 3 and 4 “deep sleep” and REM “dream” sleep) will not be able to function properly.
A healthy devotional life – one that lasts for 38 years (my current faith-age) – requires regular maintenance routines, similar to sleep stage 2. Times of worship, quoting memorized prayers (such as the Lord’s Prayer) and Bible verses (such as Psalm 23), acknowledging who God is, praying through the Word of God, praying the Names of God, thanking God all He has done and will do…all of these prayer and devotional habits are the glue that make a successful devotional life last. These, in essence, become automatic. Without them, the other parts of devotions will suffer.
The next blog entry, “Sleep and Devotions – Part 2,” will focus on the mysterious deep sleep found in stages 3 and 4 of the healthy sleep cycle.