Navigate to News section

Prepent 5774: Day 4, Sleep, Know More

How sleep fits into the bigger picture of living well

Amichai Lau-Lavie
August 12, 2013
(Tablet Magazine.)
(Tablet Magazine.)

Journey into the High Holidays with Amichai Lau-Lavie, founder of Storahtelling and the spiritual leader of Lab/Shul. It’s a daily dose of inspiration to get you focused and ready for the new year, featuring daily intentions, simple tasks, and tools for living better.

I bought two pillows this morning, both extra firm. Getting the right amount of sleep has only gotten more important the older I get—and the crankier I get after a night of just five hours of sleep. One way I try to facilitate a decent night of sleep is to create the best possible set up: comfort, coziness, and as few distractions as possible: No charging devices allowed in the bedroom, a digital ‘lights out’ before I brush my teeth. Getting better pillows is another measure—but can I keep up this regime until the next distraction surfaces?

Not getting enough sleep is a problem many people face. There’s always one more email to be sent, and before you know it it’s one a.m.

On the road to finer focus and better living, it’s helpful to ask: How am I sleeping?

Paying attention to how I sleep—and what I can do to sleep better—is today’s intention. What can I do to make sure I get the amount of sleep my body needs? The important task is how to manage the voices within that compete for my attention: the part of me that wants to be in pajamas by 11 p.m., and the other parts of me that can get totally distracted.

“I sleep and my heart is awake,’ moans the sleepless lover in the Song of Songs.

Mystics and poets have interpreted sleep as a metaphor for human existence, for the tension between mind and heart, sense and soul. Just last week I read new research about the links and kinks between how we sleep, how we feel, and even how we eat. Not surprisingly, there’s a strong relationship between sleep loss and weight gain. It all goes back to our exercise of willpower.

Perhaps two firm pillows—and a firm conviction—will help me on my way.

Follow along with the Scroll’s daily Prepent series here.

Amichai Lau-Lavie is the founder of Storahtelling, and the spiritual leader of Lab/Shul, an emerging New York City congregation.