There's a difference between sleep and rest. You can have a night where you sleep, even sleep in, and not feel rested. You could have a night where you sleep lest, yet wake up feeling refreshed and ready. And it's very important to be aware of the difference.
It's vital to our body that we get regular rest. For us to be living a wellness lifestyle, rest is a MUST. Your body will not function well without proper rest. What are some of the effects of poor rest? The list is long but includes reducing stress, improving your immune response, reducing inflammation and more. Rest is when your body repairs the damages done to it with every day living. To me, the whole act of getting sleeping is a perfect example of the innate intelligence of the body. That sensation of sleepiness comes on telling us it's time to power down, time to make repairs. And, when we're sick with an infection or the flu, our body's natural response is to want to sleep more. Pretty cool the way the body works isn't it?
It's important that we develop a good routine for rest, particularly as we get a little older. Our body's work best in a routine. This routine should start before bedtime, when we do things like turn down the lights, turn off anything that may be too stimulating, maybe put some soft music on and spend time relaxing. That way when we hit the bed, we're already on our way to powering down. Keep your room as dark as possible. Most experts agree that having a TV in the bedroom is not conducive to good rest. Maybe have some white noise in the background to drown out random sounds (I keep a floor fan running, even in the winter). Avoid caffeine after 3 or 4 in the afternoon. I know, people say "I can fall asleep even after a pot of coffee". I get that, but remember that sleep and rest are two different things, and it is scientifically proven that caffeine reduces your chances of reaching the deepest levels of sleep, REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), which is where real rest and repair occur.
Here's a couple of important notes for those that have trouble sleeping/resting. Don't lay in bed tossing and turning. Get out of bed and go read something boring (like some of my blog posts???) until you get sleepy. Staying in the bed when you're not able to sleep starts to develop a neuro-association in your mind of "bed = sleep problems". Don't bring your work to bed with you, ie laptop, iPad, paperwork etc. Once again, a bad neuro-association can occur. The bed is for rest, and sex.
If you are a teen, or have teens, be wary of starting the habit of texting with friends laying in bed. That can go on for hours and interfere with rest. Even adults that are chained to work via their smart phones need to be wary of this habit as well.
Remember, resting well is part 4 of our wellness formula: Eat well, move well, think well and rest well.
Until next time...Be Well!