Adrian Reynolds. And So To Bed…A Biblical View of Sleep. Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 2014. 96 pp. $7.99.
I rarely read “Christian Living” books because most of the time they just don’t interest me. But when And So To Bed…A Biblical View of Sleep first came across my radar, I knew I had to read it. But I was also afraid to read it. I knew it was a book I needed to read because, well, I suck at sleeping. I’m a recovering insomniac, and prior to reading this book my view of sleep was pretty distorted. When I was an atheist, I was pretty content sleeping as little as possible – when this life is all there is, of course it makes sense that one would want to maximize the time and “sleep” when you’re dead. But after becoming a Christian, my perspective on sleep didn’t really change – “there’s so much to do. I’ll catch up on sleep in the age to come, when I won’t even need it.” As you can see, though I don’t enjoy being tired all the time, I’ve never really minded being an insomniac. But….I knew my perspective on sleep wasn’t right. And that brings me to why I was afraid to read this book – I was afraid that reading this book would ruin my productivity (if you spend more time sleeping and trying to fall asleep, of course you have less time to get things done). But I knew I had a problem, and I knew that I needed to read this book.
Adrian Reynolds wrote And So To Bed…because he could not find a single Christian book on sleep; nor could he find an entry in the Dictionary of Pastoral Theology. This short, little book fills the lacuna and provides a brief yet robust popular-level look at what the Bible says about sleep. The central thesis of this book is that “Sleep is part of our created humanity, a good gift from God to be treasured and enjoyed; an earthly picture of a spiritual reality” (10). The first chapter takes a general look at sleep, pointing out physical and psychological effects of sleep deprivation. Chapter 2 dwells on sleep as part of our created humanity and a good gift from God. Chapters 3 and 4 are the heart of the book, taking us through many Scriptures to summarize a biblical picture of sleep. Chapter 3 shows that sleep is a sign of trust in God, and here the author also exhorts the reader to both pray for good sleep and to thank God for sleep. I do remember years ago praying for God to help me establish good sleep patterns, but I haven’t prayed for good sleep in years. I appreciated the reminder to both pray and thank God for sleep. Chapter 4 is very rich spiritually as well, looking at sleep as an earthly picture of a spiritual reality – sleeping and waking are symbolic of death and resurrection.
Chapter 5 is very practical, addressing what to do when sleep eludes us. Here, as Reynolds does several times in the book, he reminds the reader that though this book focuses on the spiritual, there may be other reasons why people can’t sleep well. I appreciate that Reynolds does not discount or ignore the “non-spiritual” aspects, reasons both practical and medical, physical and psychological. However, Reynolds notes well that we are holistic beings, and that you can’t easily separate the spiritual from the physical. He argues that sleep is not less than a spiritual issue, and makes a good case that I agree with. So this chapter addresses practical/environmental strategies for getting better sleep, takes a look at common physical and psychological causes of bad sleep, and of course, focuses on the spiritual aspect of sleep. The chapter presents 5 “solutions” to the problem of not getting good sleep. The book concludes with a chapter that reiterates the thesis, especially emphasizing sleep as pointing to death and being in the presence of Jesus. The chapter ends with a prayer about sleep from the Valley of Vision
And So To Bed…is a quick and easy read and the only book I know of that presents a biblical view of sleep. It’s very short and very simple, and so my only criticism is that I wish it was longer and went deeper. However, this is a great introduction to the matter, and should be the go-to book for anyone looking for a quick read on a biblical perspective of sleep. I’d say this is a book every Christian should read, because we don’t really think about sleep; at least, not in spiritual terms. But it’s much more spiritual than we tend to realize, both in terms of the physical act and what the act ultimately points to.
Thanks to Christian Focus for the review copy!