A question that I often ponder is Why did God create sleep? It’s obvious that we need sleep. The health and vitality of the human race are intricately dependent on it. But why did the Lord make us this way? Why could we not stay awake all the time, twenty-four hours a day? We certainly would be more productive if this were the case.

In answering these questions, we have to remember that the reality of human sleep is not a new, recent, or modern phenomenon. It can actually trace its origins all the way back to the very beginning of scripture.

In the opening chapter of Genesis, we can see the creative power of God on full display and how He is able to bring everything in this universe into existence. On day six, God reaches the pinnacle and apex of His creation when He forms the first two humans in His image.

One chapter later, Moses fills in the gaps and explains how God accomplishes this grand feat. What’s fascinating is that God not only spoke but He also used sleep within this process. “The Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:21–22).

Based on this text, it is clear that God caused Adam (the first man) to fall into a slumber. This fact reveals His immeasurable power and control. If God wants us to sleep, then He will make sure that it happens. We can try to fight Him, puff up our chests, or wrongly believe in our own autonomy and independence. But regardless of what we think about ourselves, we are just like Adam. We are finite creatures; we are helpless in the face of God. His might will always overpower us. If He wills something, then it will come to pass. If He has a purpose in mind, it will be done. Whether it is the crucifixion of Christ or making the first man go to sleep, God can do all things. Nothing is beyond Him or impossible in any way (Jeremiah 32:27).

In the end, this is why sleep will always serve as one of the main dichotomies between us and God. Sleep is what differentiates us and Him. Yes, we are made in the image of God, which is a significant blessing. But we are neither God, nor are we miniature little gods. We are humans. The main truth that exposes this fact is our sleep. As John Piper attests, “Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God.”[1] As humans, we need sleep and God does not (Psalm 121:4). God can also force us to go to sleep immediately, without delay, and we cannot force God to do anything.

Plus, the opening chapters of Genesis outline the ways in which we are deeply dependent upon God. Adam, outside of donating his rib, played no part in bringing Eve to life. He was largely a bystander. “Adam slept while his wife was in making, that no room might be left to imagine that he had herein directed the Spirit of the Lord, or been his counsellor.”[2] Thus, the formation of Adam and Eve was not due to mere evolution, the random passing of time, a big bang in deep space, or the independent influence of humankind. Instead, humans were and continue to be the byproduct of God’s skill and divine aptitude. Man had life breathed into his lungs. Woman was formed while man was asleep. You and I today are knitted together in our mother’s womb by the proficiency and handiwork of God Himself (Psalm 139).

According to Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” This is true not only across the pages of time and history, but it was especially true at the very beginning of everything. God solely caused Adam to rest so that His might could be displayed and He could do just as He pleased. Like Adam, you are not God and you never will be. The certainty and necessity of your sleep profoundly reflect this very truth.


Excerpt taken from Chapter 1:  The Beginning of Creation in “A Theology of Sleep:  Trusting in the Lord When You Are Most Vulnerable” by Marc Webb


[1] “A Brief Theology of Sleep,” Desiring God, accessed March 17, 2023, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-brief-theology-of-sleep.

[2] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Volume 1: Genesis to Deuteronomy (Mclean, Virginia: MacDonald Publishing), 19–20.