There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience. — French proverb
A clear conscience makes a soft pillow. — American proverb
The softest pillow is a clear conscience. — Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
There’s been a debate for centuries about whether or not sleeping with a clear conscience makes for a better night’s sleep. It’s even a recurring theme in Shakespeare’s Macbeth who felt as though when he murdered the King in his sleep that he actually murdered sleep. Although there are plenty of theories on sleeping with a clear conscience, there haven’t been any definitive studies done to lend weight to the ages old theory regarding conscience and sleep.
Many religions around the world practice nightly prayers before going to bed as a bedtime ritual. They teach these prayers to their children and incorporate them into their spiritual journeys. Even religions that don’t necessarily pray, but meditate while sometimes performing yoga, often include daily meditations as part of their sleep routines. It lends credence to clearing the conscience as important for getting a good night’s sleep. Whether it’s confessing wrongs, making amends, or asking for spiritual guidance to avoid similar mistakes in the future, the outcome is the same – a clearer conscience just in time for sleep.
A surprising study conducted by business schools at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina and the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona concluded that test subjects suffering from sleep deprivation are more likely to behave unethically than those who have full night’s sleep. While this does nothing to support or disprove the theory that a clear conscience is the key for a good night’s sleep, it does indicate that failing to get an adequate amount of sleep may leave you with a few things to feel guilty about.
Christopher Barnes, assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business believes that sleep deprivation weakens self-control saying, “The same person could behave ethically one day – after a good night of sleep – but unethically on another day – after a poor night of sleep. Thus, it is not just bad people who do bad things – even good people can do bad things if they are unable to exercise self-control.”
How do You Feel About Sleep and a Clear Conscience?
The bottom line for anyone struggling to get a proper amount of sleep is whether or not you’re able to sleep well when something is weighing heavily upon your mind. Do you have niggling thoughts creeping in just as your head hits your pillow? Is a guilty conscience waking you up in the middle of the night and robbing you of good sleep? If that’s the case, then perhaps, its’ a very real concept for you. Other people either feel no guilt for the “wrongs” they’ve committed or manifest their guilt in different ways.
Try clearing your conscience prior to sleeping yourself and see if it makes a difference in the amount of sleep or even the quality of sleep you’re getting at night. Whether it’s prayer, meditation, confession (to God, a religious leader, or the person you’ve wronged) or simply writing down in a sleep diary how you feel and why on paper, try clearing your conscience to see if it really does make your pillow a softer place to rest your head at night.
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