Does the Bible Say Anything About Sleep Habits?

Americans aren’t getting enough shuteye. That’s the conclusion of a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that nearly nine million Americans take prescription sleeping pills and such prescriptions have tripled for people younger than 45. Of course, occasional sleepless nights are normal for nearly everyone and sometimes insomnia is caused by uncontrollable factors like physical pain or nightmares. But can a lack of sleep indicate a spiritual problem? Does the Bible say anything to guide us in our sleep patterns? You might be surprised to learn that the answer is yes to both questions.

SleepFirst, several passages in Scripture’s wisdom literature suggest that inability to sleep may reflect a lack of trust in the Lord. In Psalm 4:8, David is able to sleep amid life’s trials because of his confidence that the Lord alone made him “dwell in safety.” Similarly, Psalm 127:1-2 teaches that the Lord watches over His people. Therefore, we need not “eat the bread of anxious toil” or “in vain . . . rise up early and go late to rest,” thinking our security depends entirely on our frenzied labors. Indeed, God “gives to his beloved sleep.” It brings to mind the time Jesus slept in a boat during a storm on the Sea of Galilee. In contrast to His frazzled disciples, Jesus’ sleep was an expression of trust in His heavenly Father (Mark 4:35-41). Of course, there are times when sleeplessness is appropriate given the weightiness of our circumstances, and too much sleep may also reflect a lack of trust in the Lord, as when depressed or worried people sleep to avoid facing their troubles. But finding ourselves routinely unable to sleep due to worry indicates a need to trust God, and not to pop Ambien.

Scripture also says that too much sleep may reflect laziness. Consider Proverbs 6:9-11, which asks sarcastically, “How long will you lie there, O sluggard?” and warns that one who sleeps when he should be working will come to poverty. In contrast, the Proverbs 31 woman routinely rises early to work in her home (Proverbs 31:15). Just as failure to rest can indicate a lack of faith in God’s provision, refusal to work when we’re tired can indicate a lack of drive and work ethic.

Finally, the Bible teaches that there is a time to sacrifice sleep for a greater spiritual good. Jesus regularly rose early to pray and even prayed all night on occasion (Luke 6:12), recognizing that sometimes communion with God is more necessary for His children than physical rest. The night before Jesus’ crucifixion, for example, He told Peter, James, and John to pray that they would “not enter into temptation.” When they fell asleep instead, the Lord rebuked them and said there would be other times for sleep (Matthew 26:36-46). Their abandonment of Jesus during His arrest and trial was a result of their choice to sleep rather than seek God.

Where does all this leave us? For one, the Bible doesn’t say how much sleep we should get. Seven to nine hours may be a medical recommendation, but there’s no scriptural prescription for the number of hours we should spend in bed. Still, rest should characterize God’s people. (Not like the Chicago woman who routinely woke up at 1:30 a.m. because of worry over work demands and told NBC News that sleep eluded her because, she “was at wit’s end.” And not like the millions of Americans who throw off their bodies’ natural sleep rhythms by using their computers, smartphones, and tablets before going to bed.) Primarily, the Bible speaks of rest as a condition of the soul, characteristic of believers whether they are awake or asleep (see, for example, Matthew 11:29 and Hebrews 3:7-4:13). But Scripture also teaches that a soul resting in Christ normally shouldn’t find sleep elusive. At the same time, a resting soul should be disciplined to sacrifice sleep when necessary to earn a living or render service to God.

So next time worry keeps you awake or depression makes it hard to get out of bed, consider opening your Bible before you head to the medicine cabinet. There you’ll find the comforting voice of Jesus urging, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1).



About David Roach

David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press in Nashville, Tennessee, and a contributor to both BibleMesh and Kairos Journal. He holds a philosophy degree from Vanderbilt University and earned his PhD in church history at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His writings have appeared in academic journals and various Southern Baptist denominational publications.
  • Lori

    I have a question about Jehovah’s witnesses beliefs. How are their beliefs different from Athiests beliefs?

    • cheezeweeze

      Although I am fairly unlearned in the JW faith I have read some of their literature and they do believe in a sovereign God. Atheists believe there is no God and this world we live in is one gigantic accident and or multiple simultaneous coincidences.

    • Joe Roberts

      well, they’re Christians, pretty different.

  • This is excellent. I was reading about sleep studies and thought I’d like to know what the Bible says about the topic. All good points here.

  • sam

    Have you consired depression. Insomnia. Unable to sleep that effects your health. God wants us to take care of our bodies. Lack of sleep does not do that. By the way ambien does not work

    • Donna

      Repeating bible promises, and melatonin helps. God said it and I believe it.

  • sam

    Its easy for you to say. Has it happened to you

  • sam

    God wants us to be healthy not being able to sleep is not healthy. You have to have enough faith and belief for God to heal you from insomnia. Its easy to judge say pick up the bible and you will sleep. Have you had that experience.

  • Anonymous

    The best thing to do when you can’t sleep is pray. Sleepless nights are the perfect time for extra prayer. Praying just before going to bed helps a lot, too. It calms your soul and puts you safely in God’s hands.

  • Tori Ellise

    I’m so blessed to have found this artic
    ! Its full of such wisdom and poised for good study.

    I have SAD. An acronym for a rare sleep “disorder” called Seasonal Affective Disorder. Basically as the seasons change so does many key aspects of your behavior. Im not bipolar- although is can severely impact mood. Yet whenever winter starts rolling around (right now we are at the cusp of fall) in the northern hemisphere i CANNOT sleep during the times i use to.

    For instance during the summer:
    Slept 6-12 hrs fell asleep easy before mindnight. Woke easy around 6-11AM (not bad for a Youth during Summer)

    During the transitional stages into fall I’m already:
    CANNOT SLEEP until 5-6AM! That’s me in bed from 11pm-5am tossing and turning. Listening to therapeutic songs doesn’t help, nor does the relaxation techniques I’ve been taught.
    —-
    i thought for a while- about the first time sleep is mentioned in the bible- GENESIS! I was lead by the Lord to think of something i didn’t see mentioned in your lovely article above:
    The Lord said, in [GENESIS 2:18], “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”
    Next Adam is put to SLEEP. A deep sleep.
    I’m inclined to believe that being the first mention of sleeping in a situation where God is making changes to the body AND BRINGS NEW GIFTS has a huge part in sleep. Not to take anything away from our responsibility to the Lord to not be sluggards and not stress. I just wanted to point out the first thing SLEEP Is used for- a condition where The Lord physically alters us and then fashions what we need as compliments. I do believe the Lord put my heart in a good body to serve him. So if i fall asleep from 6am-12am that’s the time he uses for his purposes to bring glory to his n kingdom. Not by any other way would i rather it be.

    I hope this brings comfort to a lot of u who might be feeling dreadfully inadequate over ur sleep. We are definitively powerless don’t get me wrong. YET We serve a Loving God of abundant Grace! He doesn’t do things with no purpose. Once you see what the Lord has used you for- ultimately- to manifest his greatness! Im grateful. Its very difficult to be told NO. When you think your doing the right thing. (Like trying to wake up or go to bed when others do)
    but who are we but clay pots and cups?
    [ROMANS]
    If u still feel lost. Pray.
    ♡♡♡
    – Sleeping Beauties

    • Victor

      God blessed me

    • Kemar Henry

      The exact same thing happens to me. if this is happening to you it’s because you are in a land you are not originally from. Brown people are not to be subjected to periods of cold and long darkness. No drugs will help you must move to a place where you are getting enough natural melatonin to sleep at ease.

      • Kemar Henry

        When i say not originally from i don’t mean place of you birth, but the place of your ancestors (Your genes).

  • Erick Alcazar

    Hey I am curious can I ask you question?

  • marcia

    Thankyou, this answer so much for me, to know the more things that Jesus sacrificed was also sleep, who are we to moan about lack of sleep, we need to communicate more with our Lord Jesus Christ and want to be more like him, we know that his heart suffered from rejection of his people, he died of a broken heart, so sad, I love my Lord and savior “Yeshua” for dying for my sin’s – God bless

  • George Brown

    SHALOM AND PRAISE BE TO THE MOST HIGH GOD YAHUAH AND HIS SON YAHUSHA.

    I HAVE A NUMBER OF QUESTIONS FOR ANYONE WILLING TO ACCEPT ANSWERING THEM.HOWEVER, THIS QUESTIONS AREN’T FOR DEBATE, BUT TO LEARN TRUTH TOGETHER. THEREFORE, I ASK THAT PLEASE DON’T GET OFFENDED ,LOOK AT THE TRUTH OF THE SCRIPTURES, AND ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS IN LIGHT OF THE BIBLE THEN COMPARE WITH BIBLICAL PROPHECIES.

    1.) WHAT IS THE CREATOR NAME THAT HE SAID THAT WE ARE TO CALL HIM FOREVER ACCORDING TO (EXODUS 13:3)

    2.)SINCE OUR MASHIACH IS A HEBREW YISRAELITE ,WHAT IS HIS TRUE BIRTH NAME? AND WHY DID WESTERNERS GIVE HIM A EUROPEAN GREEK NAME JESUS, WHEN THERE IS NO LETTER “J” IN THE HEBRAIC LANGUAGE NOR DID THE LETTER “J” EXIST IN HIS TIME,BUT IS ONLY AROUND 500 PLUS YEARS OLD. THEREFORE, HIS NAME COULD NOT HAVE BEEN JESUS.
    AND BEFORE SOMEONE SAYS IT DOESN’T MATTER, I SAY THINK AGAIN BECAUSE OUR MASHIACH SAID GO PREACH IN HIS NAME, BAPTIZE IN HIS NAME, ASK IN PRAYER IN HIS NAME,AND IN PHILIPINES,IT SAYS THERE IS NO OTHER NAME UNDER THE SUN IN WHICH MAN SHALL BE SAVED. THEREFORE, KNOWING AND UTTERING HIS TRUE BIRTH NAME IS VERY VERY IMPORTANT. ALSO, THE NAME jesus DOES NOR CAN IT CARRY THE POWER OF OUR MASHIACH TRUE HEBREW NAME.
    I COULD GO ON ABOUT THE TRUTH AND THE POWER OF HIS TRUE NAME, BUT THAT’S A WHOLE ANOTHER LESSON.

    3.)WHY DO CHRISTIANS WORSHIP GOD ON SUN-DAYS WHEN THE MOST HIGH GOD SAID WORSHIP HIM ON THE SHABBAT FOREVER (EXODUS 20:8 ; 31).
    WHY DID CONSATITINIE, THE ROMAN EMPEROR, CHANGE THIS DAY TO SUN-DAY AND LATER ON IN 1903,THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH REESTABLISHED THAT DAY?
    WHO GAVE THEM AUTHORITY TO ADD AND TAKE AWAY FROM THE WORD OF GOD WHEN HE SAID NOT TO?

    4.)WHO IS (DEUTERONOMY 28:15-68)IS PROPHESING ABOUT? HONESTLY ANSWER THIS QUESTION:WHO ARE THESE PROPHECIES SPEAKING ABOUT? BECAUSE THE MOST HIGH GOD SAID THAT THE TRUE CHILDREN OF YISRAEL -HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE THEN TO THE GENTILES, CAN BE IDENTIFIED BY THE CURSES HE PLACED UPON THEM FOR THE TRANSGRESSIONS OF THEIR ANCESTORS AND THEIR CONTINUOUS BREAKING OF HIS COMMANDMENTS TODAY.WHICH LEADS TO MY NEXT QUESTIONS THEN I WILL STOP IN ORDER TO GENERATE HONEST DIALOGUE WITH THOSE WHO WANT TO KNOW TRUTH AND NOT GET ANGRY AND DEBATE ABOUT IT.

    5.)THOSE WHO ARE CALLING THEMSELVES JEWS AND ARE OCCUPYING ISRAEL TODAY, AREN’T THE REAL HEBREW YISRAELITE JEWS OF THE BIBLE (REVELATION 2:9 ; 3:9).THEREFORE, WHO ARE THEY? BECAUSE DEUTERONOMY 28 SAID THE TRUE HEBREW YISRAELITES HAVE BEEN SCATTERED THROUGHOUT THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE EARTH. AND (LUKE 21:24)SAYS THERE WILL BE NO PEACE IN THE HOLY LAND UNTIL THE TIME OF THE GENTILES ARE UP AND THE MASHIACH AND HIS TRUE CHOSEN PEOPLE RETURN BACK TO THERE LAND. THEREFORE, IF THOSE WHO ARE CLAIMING TO BE THE HEBREW YISRAELITES IN THE LAND NOW ARE FALSE JEWS AND ARE GENTILES PRETENDING TO BE THE TRUE PEOPLE OF THE LAND,WHERE AND WHO ARE THE REAL HEBREW YISRAELITE JEWS????? DEUTERONOMY 28:15-68 SAYS WE CAN IDENTIFY THEM TODAY.
    BEFORE I END HERE,I WOULD LIKE TO SAY THIS, ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURES, TMH SAID HE WILL WAKE HIS TRUE CHOSEN PEOPLE UP AND RETURN THEM BACK TO THEIR HOLY LAND (ZECHARIAH 8:8).AND IF ONE DO THEIR HONEST RESEARCH, YOU WILL COME TO FIND OUT THAT HE’S WAKING HIS TRUE CHOSEN PEOPLE UP ALL OVER THE WORLD WHERE HE HAS SCATTERED THEM AND THE WORLD DON’T EVEN KNOW IT!!!!!!
    THEREFORE, IF YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE PERSONS, I ENCOURAGE YOU TO GO TO YOUTUBE AND TYPE IN “WHO ARE THE REAL HEBREW YISRAELITES OR ISRAELITES “IT’S GOING TO SET YOU ON YOUR JOURNEY OF THIS NEW FOUND TRUTHS THAT THIS PAST AND PRESENT GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN HIDING FROM YOU SINCE BIRTH BECAUSE THAT’S WHEN THE PURPOSEFUL BRAINWASHING BEGAN ON ALL OF US,LEAVING YOU WRAPPED IN A REAL LIVE MATRIX BECAUSE IF YOU FOLLOW THROUGH WITH MY GUIDANCE, YOU WILL COME TO REALIZE EVERYTHING YOU’VE BEEN TAUGHT AND SEE REGARDING THIS WORLD, WHOSE GOD’S TRUE CHOSEN PEOPLE, ARE REAL. IT’S ALL A LIE THAT THESE FALSE CHURCHES ARE TEACHING. THEY AREN’T TEACHING THE TRUTH WHO THE TRUE HEBREW YISRAELITES ARE TODAY. THEY WILL TELL YOU THAT IT DOESN’T MATTER BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT THE MOST HIGH AND HIS SON YAHUSHA SAYS.

    *NOTE: PLEASE POST BACK LETTING ME KNOW YOUR ANSWERS AND IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO FURTHER YOUR STUDY IN MORE DEPTH OF THIS TRUTH.

    *IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP TO TRUTH NOW. GOD IS WAKING PEOPLE UP TO THE TRUTH AND IF YOU WANT TO KNOW IT,YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO THE TRUTH OF HIS WORD BECAUSE THESE FALSE CHURCHES AND PASTORS AREN’T GOING TO TEACH IT TO YOU BECAUSE THEY ARE WORKING WITH THE DECEIVER OR DON’T WANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THEY HAVE BEEN DECEIVED. OUR MASHIACH SAID IN (MATTHEW 24:4-5)THAT MANY WILL COME IN HIS NAME CLAIMING TO BE HIM AND WILL DECEIVE MANY ”
    HE DIDN’T SAY A FEW,HE SAID MANY. THEREFORE, WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO SEE THE DECEIVER AND THE DECEIVED IN PLAIN VIEW! !! I KNOW I CAN, CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM ARE THE MAIN TWO,DO YOUR RESEARCH FOR YOURSELF. THEREFORE, IT’S 99% A CHANCE THAT YOU ARE SITTING UNDER A FALSE TEACHER EVERY TIME YOU ATTEND CHURCH SERVICES.
    HOW CAN YOU IDENTIFY THEM? OUR MASHIACH HAS LEFT US A BLUEPRINT ON HOW.
    THE FIRST THING HE SAID IS ,”MANY FALSE TEACHERS WILL COME IN HIS NAME CLAIMING TO BE HIM AND WILL DECEIVE MANY ”
    NEXT,THE MOST HIGH SAID IN EXODUS 20:8 TO WORSHIP HIM ON THE SHABBAT SO WHY ARE PEOPLE HONORING HIM ON A SUN-DAY IN WHICH IS THE SUN god PAGAN WORSHIP DAY.
    WHY AREN’T WE FOLLOWING THE COMMANDMENTS WHEN OUR MASHIACH SAID WE ARE TO FOLLOW THEM FOREVER (MATTHEW 5:17-20),BUT WHY ARE THE CHURCHES SAYING THAT THEY ARE DONE AWAY WITH. ALSO, HOW COULD THEY AND THESE SAME COMMANDMENTS ARE GOING TO GOVERN THE KINGDOM ON EARTH WHEN OUR MASHIACH RETURN TO SET UP HIS RULE FOREVER.
    SEE,WE ARE TO BUSY WORSHIPPING THESE FALSE PASTORS AND NOT MAKING SURE THAT WE ARE LINING WHAT THEY ARE SAYING UP AGAINST THE WORD OF GOD, LEADING US ASTRAY.

    I HOPE THE SPIRIT OF THE MOST HIGH OPENED SOMEONE’S EYES TO THE TRUTH TODAY. IF SO,PLEASE VISIT MY FACEBOOK TIMELINE ” NEHEMIAH AMOS “AND LOOK AT SOME OF THE TRUTH I SHARED FROM THE GUIDANCE OF THE MOST HIGH SCRIPTURES, WHICH ARE SPIRIT AND TRUTH. ALSO, VIEW VARIOUS VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE BY TYPING IN “WHO ARE THE REAL HEBREW YISRAELITES OR ISRAELITES OF TODAY? HOW CAN WE IDENTIFY THEM TODAY? ”

    BECAUSE, AS GOD WAS WAKING ME UP TO THE TRUTH, HE KEEP ME WITH AN UNEASY FEELING THAT SOMETHING WASN’T RIGHT IN THE CHURCH, BUT I COULDN’T PUT MY MIND ON IT. UNTIL HE SHOWED ME THROUGH HIS SCRIPTURES AND RESEARCH THAT HE SPEAKS OF HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE -THE CHILDREN OF YISRAEL -ISRAEL FROM GENESIS TO REVELATION AND THIS WHOLE BOOK IS ABOUT THEM -THEN THE GENTILES, BUT DONT NO PASTORS EVER SPEAKS ABOUT THEM,AND I STARTED TO QUESTIONS THIS,BECAUSE THE BIBLE SAYS IN 1JOHN 4:4,1-4 TO TEST ALL SPIRITS TO SEE ARE THEY FROM GOD OR NOT BY COMPARING WHAT THEY SAY AND SEE IF IT LINED UP WITH THE WORD. AND THE MORE TMH LEAD ME THROUGH THIS BY THE GUIDANCE OF THE SPIRIT AND TRUTH OF HIS WORD, HE STARTED EXPOSING THAT THESE WERE FALSE TEACHERS LEADING ALL THESE FALSE CHURCHES.
    NOW,EVERYTHING SOME SO CALLED PASTOR TRY TO TELL ME I SCREEN IT BY THE WORD OF THE GOD OF THE 12 TRIBES OF YISRAEL AND IF IT DON’T ADD UP,I REBUKE AND CORRECT THEM ACCORDING TO 2TIMOTHY 3:16 OR 2:15) WHILE EXAMINING MYSELF EVERYDAY.

    SHALOM AND LOVE ALWAYS IN THE SPIRIT OF OUR MASHIACH, YAHUSHA.

    • Conscious Love

      Hello and The Most High bless you!!!!! You are right about everything but i have learned that many, many are healed in “Jesus’s” name. Therefore, those who are walking Meshiach Yeshua or Yeshua Meshiach, who might say or imply that it doesnt matter, they are right or at least partially right. See, we have been deceived beyond deception, and obviously we continue to be, but they (the enemy) cannot eradicate (from our lives, from this earth) Our Heavenly Father and Our King Jesus, no matter how hard they try and have tried (it’s the whole and ultimate purpose of this satanic system- everything in it. Remember, everything not of Christ (wrong name, i know) is of the antichrist! Time now is: Yeshua Jesus is coming soon: open your bibles, listen to real worship music (discern!!!!!!! Money is not involved except with humility & love & things of The Most High), LISTEN TO THE BIBLE, pray unceasingly. Our Heavenly Father & his thousands of angels BLESS YOU ALL! Ps the majority of white people are gonna be surprised when they find they not going to heaven (hardness of heart) and a minority of brown skinned ppl too, and also when our brown skinned Savoir comes! Come, Lord Jesus!!!!! I’m surrounded by sociopaths. But first heal my hardened heart, my unsaved family & friends, in Yeshua/Jesus’s Name!!!!!!!