Sleep is more than just a physical necessity. It's also a mental and emotional one. * How we feel about our sleep affects our mood and life satisfaction the next day.
Sleep is one of the most essential aspects of our health and well-being. It affects our physical, mental, and emotional state, as well as our performance, productivity, and relationships. But how do we measure the quality of our sleep? And how does it influence our happiness and well-being?
A recent study by researchers from the University of British Columbia and Ryerson University sheds some light on these questions. The study, titled "Sleep satisfaction versus sleep efficiency: How self-reported and device-derived sleep indices relate to well-being" , was published in the journal Sleep Health in August 2023.
The study involved 109 university students who wore wrist devices to measure their sleep efficiency (the percentage of time spent asleep while in bed) and answered questions on a mobile app about their sleep satisfaction (how well they felt they slept) and their well-being (including mood, energy, stress, and life satisfaction) every morning for two weeks.
The researchers found that self-reported sleep satisfaction was consistently linked to well-being, while device-derived sleep efficiency was not¹². In other words, how satisfied people were with their night’s sleep affected their mood and life satisfaction the next day, regardless of what a sleep device said³.
JEWISH PERSPECTIVE ON SLEEP AND WELL-BEING
The study suggests that thinking more positively about one’s sleep might increase well-being, and that wearables and technology might negatively affect well-being in some individuals⁴⁵. The study’s limitations include the homogenous sample, the inaccuracy of wrist devices, and the possible influence of memory on self-reports.
What does Judaism have to say about sleep and well-being? According to Jewish tradition, sleep is not only a physical need, but also a spiritual one. It is a gift from God that allows us to rest, renew, and reconnect with our soul. As the Talmud says, "Sleep is one-sixtieth of death" (B.T., Berakhot 57b), meaning that when we sleep, we experience a partial detachment of our soul from our body, similar to what happens after death. This allows us to ascend to higher realms and receive divine inspiration.
The Zohar, the foundational work of Jewish mysticism, explains that when we sleep, our soul leaves our body through our mouth and travels to the heavenly chambers where it encounters angels, spirits, and souls of the righteous. There it learns secrets of the Torah and receives guidance for its mission in this world. When we wake up, our soul returns to our body with a renewed vitality and purpose.
Therefore, Judaism teaches us to treat sleep with respect and gratitude. We are instructed to recite prayers before going to bed and upon waking up, thanking God for giving us sleep and restoring our soul. We are also advised to follow certain practices that enhance the quality of our sleep, such as avoiding eating too much or too little before bedtime, sleeping on a comfortable bed in a clean room, avoiding disturbing noises or lights, and sleeping for an appropriate amount of time (neither too much nor too little).
Judaism also recognizes the connection between sleep and well-being. The Talmud states that "A good dream is better than wine" (B.T., Berakhot 57b), implying that a pleasant sleep can uplift our mood and spirit more than any worldly pleasure. Conversely, a bad dream can cause distress and anxiety. Therefore, Judaism provides us with tools to interpret and rectify our dreams, such as reciting certain verses or prayers, fasting, or giving charity.
Moreover, Judaism teaches us that sleep is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. The ultimate goal of sleep is to prepare us for the service of God and the fulfillment of His will in this world. As King David said in Psalms (16:7), "I bless God who has guided me; even at night my heart instructs me." Sleep is not an escape from reality, but an opportunity to gain clarity and direction for our life's journey.
As we approach the era of Moshiach, when God's presence will be revealed in the world and all humanity will live in harmony and peace, we can expect that our sleep will also improve and become more satisfying and meaningful. As Isaiah prophesied (60:1), "Arise, shine, for your light has come; the glory of God has dawned upon you." May we merit to see this day soon in our times.
Source: Conversation with Bing, 2023-09-22
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