We live in a busy, hectic and demanding world. The benefits that modernization and technological advancements have brought into our lives (such as the ability to read this on your phone), also put a lot of demands on our bodies and minds.
Consequently, it is becoming more and more important to get enough rest as well as good quality rest. Unfortunately, many people don’t seem to get enough rest. And many don’t even realise that getting enough rest is probably one of the most important things to reduce disease risk, keep you at a normal weight and to reduce premature ageing.
Many of us think we can get by with only a few hours of sleep and feel that we still are young enough to push ourselves to the limit. If this is what you think, it is time reconsider your beliefs about rest. If you don’t get enough rest, you need to realise that you are harming your body in ways you cannot imagine and you will likely pay a heavy price sooner rather than later.
Are you one of the people who isn’t getting enough rest?
When we thing about rest, most of us think about sleep. And while sleep is one of the ways to get some rest there are other ways to get rest. Rest can and should include things like;
Taking 15 to 30 minutes each day to just relax and take a break from all the technology and demands of life. It can be in the office or at home. But it has to be a time when you cut yourself off from the hustle and bustle of this world. Preferably alone in a quiet place. This can be a very powerful form of rest.
Taking a break from technology and your phone each day. Many of us don’t take breaks from these devices that keep our brain excessively stimulated. Are you addicted to your phone? You may require a digital detox.
Taking time off work each year. This is different from taking leave of absence from work to go and do work in your private business or in other equally engaging activities. Time off should be to rest your body and mind. This is very important. Perhaps leave your usual environment and go for a holiday out of town. And leave all your work behind.
Taking short naps during the day. This is not a sign of weakness, being lazy or a sign that you aren’t strong enough. It is a very useful habit that helps your body to rest and recuperate.
Going for a massage. A massage helps you to get the tension out of your body and is different from going for exercise. It is usually a time when people take a moment to unwind and rest for a while.
There are many other ways we can take rest but it is important that we all take a break and rest our bodies. However, the most important form of rest is sleep. Getting enough sleep is a vital, dynamic part of a healthy lifestyle. The body needs adequate rest each night for a variety of reasons, including:
Enhancement of memory
Detoxification and elimination of toxins
Maintaining normal brain function and health
Maintaining a healthy weight
Strengthening the immune system
Repairing damaged tissues
Fighting and preventing illnesses
For most people, the body requires 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep each day although this can vary from 6 to 10 hours. On average people should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Of course, children require much more. And the best time to go to bed is actually about 2 hours after sunset.
The body has a light sensor and when it gets dark, a signal is sent to the brain to prepare to rest and sleep. The best time to sleep for people who live near the equator is therefore 9 pm. Going to bed around 10 pm is ok but 11 pm should be the latest time to sleep unless of course you must be awake for some reason like if you work at night.
How much sleep do you get? Do you get enough?
If you are consistently getting less than 6 hours of sleep you are likely to begin to suffer some of the following challenges:
Trouble focusing and concentrating at work or school. You may find it hard to meet deadlines and even to remember important information.
Increased appetite, increased cravings and eating a lot more than you normally would
Unexplained weight gain.
Increased likelihood of mistakes and even an increased likelihood of accidents in your daily life and even while driving.
Reduced libido and sexual dysfunction.
Increased likelihood of chronic diseases especially diabetes and depression.
Increased likelihood of being sedentary because of feeling fatigued and less energized.
Having an unstable mood that includes being irritable, moody and even cranky.
Many people try to fight this off with coffee, stimulants like alcohol, energy drinks, and sometimes even medications. While these can offer temporary solutions, they don’t usually have lasting effects and can eventually lead to dependency or a need for more and more of the same to achieve the same effect. Take an honest look at your life and see if you really need to get more rest and sleep.
If yes, make some more time to sleep and rest. Cut out time from social media and television. These will release more time to be productive and allow you more time for rest. Many of the things that prevent us from resting actually aren’t very important. Don’t sacrifice rest and sleep for non-essential things. Here are a few suggestions to help you get good quality sleep:
Avoid blue light at night. These come from mobile devices and bright screens. These devices can lead to excessive alertness due to changes in your eyes and brain that make it hard to sleep. Try instead to read a book and try to maintain lights that are not too bright.
Spend some time in natural light during the day. Your body needs this for its biological clock. The sleep hormone melatonin is regulated by natural light.
Get some exercise. This helps to relieve stress but it also helps your sleep rhythm. For some exercise in the evening can make it harder to sleep so exercise at the time that is best for your sleep
Create a routine and keep it. Our bodies thrive on habit and routine.
Take a warm bath before bedtime and gently massage your body with lavender oil.
Take a cup of chamomile tea. Chamomile is known to help with sleep.
Whatever the case, you need to be honest to yourself and begin getting enough rest and sleep. I know some of us will feel like we really don’t have time. But if sleep and rest are a priority you can begin to make a little bit more time. And for the Christians read Psalm 127:2. This is what the good news version says:
“It is useless to work so hard for a living, getting up early and going to bed late. For the Lord provides for those he loves, while they are asleep”.
Wishing you peace, health and blessings