The Best Drug


posted August 29, 2018


I quipped to my wife Sue this morning that – of all the benefits of this first month of retirement from my first career – I have never slept better!  Perhaps this is a testimony to the long hours of looking at my computer screen, combined with some long bike rides … topped off by a nice glass of wine at the end of the day, or maybe it is my body’s way of catching up on the three preceding and sleep-deprived years of working two jobs while completing a Master’s Degree.  However we might account for it, there is more bounce in my step and better clarity in my thinking and writing.

Lisa Klewicki, a licensed psychologist and assistant professor at Divine Mercy University’s Institute for the Psychological Sciences, supports my discovery:

SLEEP IS A TIME WHEN WE NOT ONLY REPLENISH OUR PHYSICAL BODIES FOR INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY, BUT ALSO IMPROVE OUR CREATIVITY. OFTEN WHEN WE DREAM, OUR CREATIVE JUICES FLOW, AND WHILE OUR MIND CAN PUT TOGETHER INTERESTING AND BIZARRE MATERIAL DURING DREAMING, IT CAN ALSO PUT TOGETHER INNOVATIVE WAYS OF SOLVING LIFE’S PROBLEMS. OUR DREAMS CAN HELP US TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. SLEEP GIVES US THE STRENGTH WE NEED FOR EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING AND PATIENCE IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS. SLEEP ALLOWS US TO LOWER OUR STRESS LEVEL SO WE ARE RELAXED AND REFRESHED FOR THE NEXT DAY, EMOTIONALLY ABLE TO HANDLE WHAT THE DAY ENTAILS. IN ADDITION, SLEEP ALLOWS US TO SHOW VIRTUE WHEN ENGAGING WITH OTHERS. IT GIVES US THE PATIENCE NECESSARY TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR.

Klewicki also points to the spiritual benefits of good sleep, citing no less than Pope Francis in her endorsement of slumber as the safe road to wholeness:

“REST IS SO NECESSARY FOR THE HEALTH OF OUR MINDS AND BODIES AND OFTEN SO DIFFICULT TO ACHIEVE DUE TO THE MANY DEMANDS PLACED ON US. BUT REST IS ALSO ESSENTIAL FOR OUR SPIRITUAL HEALTH, SO THAT WE CAN HEAR GOD’S VOICE AND UNDERSTAND WHAT HE ASKS OF US. … DO NOT FORGET JESUS WHO SLEEPS! DO NOT FORGET ST. JOSEPH WHO SLEEPS! JESUS SLEPT WITH THE PROTECTION OF JOSEPH. DO NOT FORGET: FAMILIES FIND THEIR REST IN PRAYER.”


This interlude offers an opportunity to discuss the Catholic approach to health and wellness … the heart of which identifies healthcare with the healing ministry of Jesus – especially to the poor and afflicted – and belief in a loving God.  While much attention is paid to the Catholic doctrine that circumscribes abortion, birth control, and euthanasia, its abiding faith yields a larger set of commitments, including respect for treating patients in a holistic way, human dignity in and of itself, promoting workplace justice, contributing to the common good, prioritizing the needs of the poor, caring for the environment, and using financial resources responsibly.  It should also be noted that the template of the U.S. healthcare industry stemmed from institutions founded by Catholic sisters who came to this land from Europe 300 years ago.

Among Klewicki’s many tips for ensuring a better sleep cycle is keeping one’s bed for sleep only; studying, paying bills, or working on a laptop in bed, persuades the body and mind to believe that the bed is for active occasions, and this makes it difficult to fall asleep.  She also cautions against late-night screen time, as the “blue light” stimulates the brain into an unhealthy sense of wakefulness.

Whenever I hear from one of my children (who are now adults) that they are “under the weather,” amidst a busy week of classes, work, and other obligations, I try lovingly to slip in that, while all of the “-Quil” medicines are good comforts for a cold or the flu, there is no better drug than sleep – it will mend you faster than any over-the-counter remedy and accompanies the work of any prescribed medicine.

Sources:

KLEWICKI, L. (2017, JULY 14). GETTING QUALITY SLEEP. CATHOLIC DIGEST

TRANCIK, E. AND BARINA, R. (MARCH 2015). WHAT MAKES A CATHOLIC HOSPITAL CATHOLIC? U.S. CATHOLIC 80:3.