Second Sunday of Lent; and Sleep (Part Two)

Introit   Remember, O Lord, Thy bowels of compassion, and Thy mercies that are from the beginning of the world, lest at any time our enemies rule over us: deliver us, O God of Israel, from all our tribulations. Psalm. To You, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul: in You, O my God, I put my trust: let me not be ashamed. ℣. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. — Remember, O Lord …

Collect   O God, who sees that we are wholly destitute of strength, keep us within and without: that we may be defended in body from all adversity: and cleansed in mind from evil thoughts. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who lives and reigns with Thee …

 Epistle (1 Thessalonians 4) Brethren: We pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus that, as you have received from us, how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more. For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles that know not God: and that no man overreach nor circumvent his brother in business: because the Lord is the Avenger of all these things, as we have told you before and have testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto sanctification: in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Gradual   The troubles of my heart are multiplied: deliver me from my necessities, O Lord. See my abjection and my labour; and forgive me all my sins

Tract   Give glory to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures for ever. Who shall declare the powers of the Lord: who shall set forth all His praises? Blessed are they that keep judgment and do justice at all times. Remember us, O Lord, in the favour of Thy people: visit us with Thy salvation

Gospel (Matthew 17:1-9) At that time Jesus took Peter and James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain apart: and He was transfigured before them. And His face shone as the sun: and His garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with Him. And Peter answering said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if You will, let us make here three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear Him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said to them: Arise, and fear not. And they lifting up their eyes saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man until the Son of Man be risen from the dead.

Offertory I will meditate on Thy commandments, which I have loved exceedingly: and I will lift up my hands to Thy commandments, which I have loved.

Secret Look favourably upon these present Sacrifices, O Lord, that they may profit us unto both devotion and salvation. Through our Lord …

Communion Understand my cry: hearken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God: for to You will I pray, O Lord.

Postcommunion We humbly beseech You, almighty God, that we whom Thou dost refresh by Thy Sacraments may worthily serve You by lives well-pleasing to You. Through our Lord …

Sleep Part Two

I think it worthwhile working through some of the ideas of Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep, Penguin 2017. Now, some of his research has been criticised, but I shall try and stick to those points which are clearly established. As stated last week, I do think it advisable that we get the sleep we need, and the nourishment we need. Health is a blessing.

If I understand him correctly, a lot of Walker’s argument that we should allow ourselves the sleep we need (and not use sleeping tablets or take alcohol to help us sleep) turns on the insight that we are healthier, have better immune systems, and learn and remember better, if we get that sleep. We are made to sleep, within proper limits, according to Walker. Critical in coming to this conclusion is the fact, as he reports it, that: “With few exceptions over the past half century, every experiment that has investigated the impact of deficient sleep on the human body has observed an overactive sympathetic nervous system. For as long as the state of insufficient sleep lasts, and for some time thereafter, the body remains stuck in some degree of a fight-or-flight state. … Through this central pathway of an overactive sympathetic nervous system, sleep deprivation triggers a domino effect that will spread like a wave of health damage throughout your body.” (167) He then refers to heart issues, subsequent blood pressure problems, an undue cineaste in cortisol, shutting off the surge of growth hormone which we need each night. That, he says, damages our blood vessels and makes us more prone to atherosclerosis, the rupture of blood vessels, and the risk of heart attack and stroke. (167-168) He states that losing one hour of sleep when switching to daylight savings causes a spike in heart attacks the following day. (169)

Sleep, Walker states, helps us to process, organise, and learn what we have seen during the day, so that we do not forget it: “Each night, the long-range brainwaves of deep sleep will move memory packets (recent experiences) from a short-term storage site, which is fragile, to a more permanent, and thus safer, long-term storage location.” (52) Sleep helps, therefore, to acquire skills (he gives the example of a pianist who found that if he kept working at a difficult passage, he might not be able to play it, but he found that after a night’s sleep he could play it.) Hence, he writes that he found that: “sleep helped the brain automate the movement routines, making them second nature …” (127). This is particularly the result of the last two hours of sleep which provided the “memory boost.” (127)

I had not realised that alcohol sedates us, but that it is not a natural sleep, rather, it is like a “light form of anaesthesia.” (271) Even taking a moderate amount of alcohol in the afternoon or evening will rob us of the dream sleep we need. (272). There is far more to report in this book, but it comes down to this: if you are not sleeping well, obtain medical advice. It can make you a healthier servant of God.

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