“. . . keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”
We’ve now entered the “dog days” of summer. Originally, this referred to the time around mid-July when Sirius (the dog star found in the constellation Canis Major) preceded the rising of the sun. The ancient Greeks and Romans associated this time with the long, hot days of summer when people were lethargic and exhausted from heat. They seemed to experience draught, pop-up thunderstorms, and bad luck in general. We sometimes experience the same types of things during these dog days of summer.
For some today, the dog star doesn’t only represent the hottest, longest days of summer, but also the reality that school will be starting in a month or so. I’ve noticed over the past few years that this is now a good time for me to start to reestablish sleep habits and routines that I will adhere to once school starts again. This will help me feel refreshed and generally more happy during the first month of school – a time when, in the past, I have generally felt like the world was crashing around me because I was tired. Really tired.
Summer is a fun time for my family to stretch bedtimes a bit and play cards out on the deck. We might stay up watching an extra episode of some animé show we’re into, or grab the popcorn and watch a family movie. Then we sleep in a bit later in the morning and take our time getting around. These are some of the things that make summer so awesome! But by the time the dog days hit, we’re almost starting to get bored with this routine, and we are ready for a change – whether we admit it or not.
The U.S. Department of Health recommends 8-10 hours of sleep for teens (7-8 for adults) in order to feel well-rested. When someone doesn’t get enough sleep, their judgment is impaired. They often feel mad, bad, and/or sad. They also carry a higher risk of experiencing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety disorders. An article from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School points out two catastrophic human events affected by sleep deprivation: “For example, investigators have ruled that sleep deprivation was a significant factor in the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, as well as the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl.” Humanity now wishes the individuals involved in those events would have had better sleep habits!
As the above Proverb points out, sleep isn’t just something we do to help us feel better. Sleep also represents our ability to trust in God’s plan, and in essence, give God the events of the day so that He can redeem them. If it was a good day, thank God for all the great things that happened that day. If it was a bad day, thank God that you survived it, and give Him the pain and frustration of the day – and maybe pray that the next day goes better. But either way, to remember that you are not your own, but God’s. God is responsible for redeeming our good works and correcting our wrong attitudes. God is watching over us and protecting us.
Why not start preparing your sleep habits now (maybe start with going to bed at a good “school day” time 2-3 times a week)? Then you can get up in the morning and enjoy the 1-2 hours in the morning when the heat isn’t totally unbearable. That way, when we all get back together on the first day of school, you will feel happy and ready to hang out with your friends and teachers again!