Is sleep a result of the fall of man?

Question
When man was created, wasn’t he supposed to not have to sleep? Is sleep a result of the fall of man?
Answer
No, sleep is not a result of the fall of man in the garden (Gen. 3:1-7).

God, who cannot sin (2 Tim. 2:13; Tit.1:2; Heb. 6:18; Jas. 1:18), caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam even before he sinned (Gen. 2:21). Jesus, who is God and without sin (Heb. 4:15), required sleep (Luke 8:23). These two examples serve to show that sleep is a natural biological process given to man by God to help renew his physical strength and his mind, and to comfort him.

A cardiologist will tell you that proper sleep helps in the healing and repair of the heart and blood vessels. It also helps with the efficiency of other organs like the liver. Moreover, sleep deficiency has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and other serious diseases. So then, sleep is a gift from God, a common grace he has given to man to help him (Psa. 127:2; cf. Psa. 3:5; 4:8; Prov. 3:24; Mark 6:31).

This said, the Fall has had an effect on man's ability to sleep. Scripture describes individuals who had troubled sleep (Gen. 31:40; Dan. 2:1-2; 6:18). David, in particular, complained about occasional sleeplessness (Psa. 6:6). Things like guilt, shame, stress and worry can all affect sleep, not to mention things we put into our bodies. For the most part, it is sleeplessness and not sleep that is a product of the Fall.

God is also the giver of some dreams (Gen. 20:3, 6; 28:12; 31:10-11; 37:5-7, 9-11; 40:8, etc.). And, at appointed times, a lack of sleep or a sacrifice of sleep can be a blessing too if God desires to accomplish great things during those times (Luke 6:12; Zechariah's eight night visions, Zech. 1:7-17, 18-21; 2:1-13; 3:1-10; 4:1-14; 5:1-4, 5-11; 6:1-8).

God promises a peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:4-9; cf. Psa. 4:8) to his covenant children who walk faithfully with the Lord. So, Christians should sleep fairly well.

How's your sleep? (Matt. 11:28-30).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).