Affluenza—the Newest Sleep Disorder?

By Charles W. Page, MD –

“The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance
permits them no sleep.”
(Ecclesiastes 5:12 NIV)

A new sleep disorder has appeared on the horizon—affluenza. It is described as “the painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste, resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.” (Jon de Graaf—Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic. 2001)

Affluenza may become the most common malady affecting sleep. Our society is by far the most affluent in history. When compared to other nations, we have an abundance of almost everything—money, apps, cell phones, computers, opportunities, education, food. Remember Michael Jackson?

One would think that our abundance would be sufficient enough to supply a good night’s rest—that we would be content and thankful for what we have. But Solomon reminds us of the illusion that the very things we think will make us secure and comfortable actually work in the reverse—“but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.” Our consumer mindset leaves us with too many options, too many deadlines, and too many regrets to deal with as we lay our heads on our pillows.

In contrast to the abundance of things this world offers, Jesus promised an abundance of life (John 10:10). He modeled the balance of a busy purposeful life that flowed out of a position of rest. On one occasion, in the bow of a sinking ship, the Savior slept calmly, unaffected by a raging storm. Exhausted from a productive day of ministry, Jesus rested peacefully. He is the perfect example of productive, purposeful work and peaceful rest. What was the Savior’s secret?

Solomon gives us two principles to help us follow in our Master’s footsteps. “The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much.” First, we need to learn to work intentionally—not just busywork to fill up our days. Whatever we do, our labor must be in and for the Lord. Purposefully laboring according to God’s purpose for our lives sets us up for good rest.

The second truth that helps us rest is to understand a laborer leaves the decisions of the day to the boss. A day worker has the advantage of lying down to rest with an unburdened mind—no decisions, no deadlines, no dilemmas to face at the end of the day. Getting our daily instructions from God, prioritizing our lives accordingly, and leaving the results up to Him nurture a lifestyle that sets us up for sleep. In short, instead of the “dogged pursuit of the Jones,” when we live in the dogged pursuit of Jesus, we prepare our nights for sweet refreshing sleep.

If Jesus slept with a calm heart during the storms of life—so can you. The abundance of life in Christ can be yours—you can rest assured in that promise.


About Dr. Charles W. Page

Dr. Charles W. Page is a sleep-deprived surgeon who completed medical school and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He and his wife Joanna live in Texas with their five children. He is the author of Surrendered Sleep: A Biblical Perspective. Learn more at:
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