For Youth Workers Post


Ciona D. Rouse

“In the Habit” session for devozine meditations for November 1–3, 2013.


“I’m writing this session because I could use the accountability of taking a stand for sleep. Sometimes I feel as if I can keep going; but I also feel the physical and spiritual effects of not resting. God created a natural cycle for being awake and asleep—even the sun goes to bed, after all. I love helping young people think about their bodies and the importance of caring for them.” —Ciona


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Ciona D. Rouse lives and writes in Nashville, Tennessee, and practices yoga for savasana—any workout that includes napping is a win.



  • a Bible
  • yoga mats or cushions (one for each person)
  • blankets
  • CD player or iPod
  • apple juice and cups (or juice boxes)
  • animal crackers (or another yummy kid snack)
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session


For information about teenagers and sleep, check out these articles:

+   “Teens and Sleep,” National Sleep Foundation

+   “Sleep and Teenagers,” Psychology Today, April 5, 2009

+   “Sacrificing Sleep Makes for Run-Down Teens—and Parents,” by Allison Aubrey, NPR, March 1, 2013


When everyone has arrived, bring the group together. Ask each person these questions:
       What is the highest and the lowest number of hours of sleep you got during the week?
       How many hours of sleep did you get last night?



Scripture: Mark 4:35–41, Matthew 11:28–30

Invite group members to discuss these questions:
       What are the benefits of sleep? (Have in mind a few of the benefits in case people need help getting started. Look up the benefits of sleep on the National Sleep Foundation website.)
       What does sleep mean? (In part, sleep means relinquishing control. When we sleep, we are entirely at the mercy of God for breath, thought (dreams), and waking. In Mark 4:28, Jesus is able to sleep peacefully in the boat because he’s able to trust, putting his faith in God, instead of worrying about the storm. Sleep is complete surrender. The scripture is a good reminder to practice rest as a spiritual discipline.)
       In what ways can sleep be a spiritual discipline?
       How can you get more sleep? (The National Sleep Foundation also offers tips for getting enough sleep.)

Prepare the room for naptime. Invite each person to lie down on a yoga mat. Provide blankets and play soothing music. Group members may giggle for a bit. Let them. Focus on their napping for 8–10 minutes.

At the end of naptime, provide apple juice and animal crackers. Invite people to talk about their experience as they enjoy the snacks. As part of the discussion, read Matthew 11:28–30. Then ask these questions:
       Why is sleep important?
       How does it refresh us?
       What keeps us from resting?
       What are other ways to rest besides sleeping?


Growing up, I always said The Lord’s Prayer before bed. It’s a great prayer to say in preparing the body for rest. Consider inviting group members to say The Lord’s Prayer together. If some people don’t know it, ask one person to lead the prayer. Then encourage everyone to memorize it by saying this prayer before bed each night during the coming week.


  • Plan a sleep retreat. Each year, my sister’s youth group held a sleep retreat for the senior high youth. They would go to a retreat location (often a farm belonging to the family of a church member) for the weekend. Nothing was planned but meals, evening devotions, and time to sleep. Bonus: Finding chaperones has never been easier! Check out this sleep retreat model.
  • Start a sleep campaign. Invite the group to find ways of communicating the importance of sleep to the congregation. Maybe have a Sunday school challenge in which people log their sleep hours.
  • Keep a Sleep Diary. Encourage group members to keep a sleep diary for a week or two. Follow up in two weeks to discuss what they learned from it. Use these resources to help your group members keep a diary of their sleep habits:

     > “Adolescent Sleep Needs and Patterns,” the National Sleep Foundation’s Research Report and Resource Guide

     > National Sleep Foundation’s “Teen Sleep Diary

     > “National Sleep Foundation Sleep Diary

—from devozine In the Habit (November/December 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.
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