Regular, Healthy Sleep Patterns Will Make You a Better Leader

Who takes care of the caregiver?

Does being focused on serving the needs of others makes it easy for you to neglect your own health?

In your role of a leader and servant to your church, you probably push yourself to a point of exhaustion and beyond, rationalizing that you don’t have time for diets or exercise or that you will catch up on sleep later.

The reality is that the more you neglect your personal health, the less effective you actually are at caring for the spiritual health of others. Nodding off during meetings, eating greasy fast food while you drive, and collapsing on the couch during family time after work can be as destructive and sinful to your ministry as a moral failure.

Many leaders struggle with caring for their own health and well-being, and have become defeated and frustrated through the years as quick-fixes and January resolutions have come and gone. It is easier, and way more fun, to give in and neglect your own health.

Living a healthier life makes you a better leader, and your health starts with a good night’s sleep.

THE QUICK SUMMARY: Sleep Smarter, by Shawn Stevenson

Sleep Smarter is a fun and entertaining look at how sleep impacts your mind, body, and performance, without skimping on the “how to’s” to get the sleep you really deserve.

Whether you’ve struggled with sleep problems, or you’re simply interested in living a longer, healthier life, you’re going to be blown away with what you learn.

Here’s just a sampling of what you’re going to discover:

  • Why you need to sleep more and exercise less to get the best fitness results.
  • How to feel more energized and refreshed on less hours of sleep.
  • Why poor sleep quality depresses brain function and leads to poor performance.
  • What exercises you can do to instantly improve your sleep quality.
  • Why going to bed at the right time is more important than how many hours you sleep.
  • What mineral deficiency can cause severe sleep problems (and how to fix it).
  • How to calm your mind so that you can fall asleep faster.


A good night’s sleep is as important to your overall health as breathing and eating. You may think you are resting, but while you’re sleeping your body is busy tending to your physical and mental health and getting you ready for another day.

Here’s another way to look at it: nothing kills your ability to get things done faster than a bad night’s sleep. Repeated studies have shown that sleep deprivation causes significant loss in productivity. A yawn signifies more than just being tired; it means you are having trouble staying awake and making good decisions.

Studies from Harvard Medical School have shown that sleeping less than five hours a night increases the risk of death from all causes by about 15 percent. Researchers understand that sleeping too little causes disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation.

So not only is sleep important for maintaining alertness, energy for daily duties and health – lack of sleep can lead to serious medical conditions.

Isn’t it time you got a good night’s sleep?

Sleep is not an obstacle we need to go around, it’s a natural state your body requires to boost your hormone function, heal your muscles, tissues, and organs, and make your mind work at its optimal level.

Sleep is the secret sauce.

There isn’t one facet of your mental, emotional, or physical performance that’s not affected by the quality of sleep.

The big challenge is that in our fast-paced world today, millions of people are chronically sleep deprived and suffering the deleterious effects of getting low quality sleep.

The consequences of sleep deprivation aren’t pretty either. Try immune system failure, diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression, and memory loss, just to name a few.

Studies show that sleep deprivation is a missing component to nutrition and smart exercise that could help you shed fat for good. Other studies show sleep deprivation encouraging cancer, Alzheimer’s, depression, and even heart disease. In a society that is overworked and under-rested, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to issues associated with not getting the sleep that we require.

High quality sleep fortifies your immune system, balances your hormones, boosts your metabolism, increases physical energy, and improves the function of your brain. Without all of the essential benefits that sleep is providing, you will never have the body and life you want without giving your body the right amount of sleep.

Always remember the value of your sleep. You will perform better, make better decisions, and have a better body when you get the sleep you require. The shortcut to success is not made by bypassing dreamland. You will factually work better, be more efficient, and get more stuff done when you’re properly rested.

Shawn Stevenson, Sleep Smarter


Contrary to the mantra of the busy leader, you can’t sleep when you’re dead. As noted above, lack of sleep will actually hasten illness, and ultimately, death.

Fortunately, there are a number of proven tips to help you have a better night’s sleep, be healthier, and live a better overall life.

If you are not currently practicing the following sleep tips, why not try them over the next month and see if you are not sleeping – and feeling – much better.

Journal your general feelings of well being, areas of your health you would like to improve, as well as statistical data on blood pressure, weight etc.

Next, identify one to two of the tips below that you will put into practice for the next 14 days. Give your body time to adjust to the first two tweaks then take on the next adjustment. After 60 consistent days of improved sleep habits, again journal your general feelings of well-being and statistical data.

Compare the two journal entries and use the improvements you see and feel to inspire commitment to continue to get great sleep.

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule – Study after study has shown that our bodies obey regular rhythms of sleep and wakefulness. When you shortcut those rhythms, you are shortcutting your health.
  • Manage nighttime stress – Research has shown that stress is a leading cause of sleeplessness; furthermore, worrying about not getting enough sleep can actually keep people awake.
  • Eat right – Avoiding caffeine and spicy foods in the 4-6 hours before bedtime will probably keep you from a good night’s sleep.
  • Exercise – Even moderate amounts of exercise will enable a good night’s sleep.
  • Make sleep a priority in your overall health and wellbeing – Commit to say “no” or to not watch “just one more episode” on Netflix each evening, because establishing a healthy sleep routine is a foundational step in increasing your overall health.
  • Turn off the screens – The “friendly glow” of mobile devices, laptops, and television screens, and even e-readers not only gives off unnecessary light in your (hopefully) darkened room, the content of those devices causes unnecessary stress right when you need to be reducing stress.
  • Talk to your doctor – It may be the last on the list, but lack of sleep may be an early indicator of serious health issues. If you’re not resting well, make an appointment to talk it over with your doctor.

Are you ready to start your journey to a healthier life? Is it time to make some changes? Go ahead – start with a good night’s sleep tonight!

Taken from SUMS Remix 27-2, published November 2015

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
— Dave
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
— Argaw Alemu
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