An essential guide to a healthier you
What is rest?
Rest is defined as, ‘a freedom from activity or labour.’ It is a state of our body when we are doing the least possible. A good healthy sleep is an ultimate example of resting. Rest can also be a mental state when our mind is at peace and not under stress. Rest and sleep are times when our body is repairing itself.
Why do we need rest?
Think of sleep and rest like eating. When we get enough food we feel great. Too little we are still hungry, too much we feel full and uncomfortable. Just like eating, when we don’t get enough sleep we are tired and cranky and too much we feel lethargic and not motivated. Get the right amount of rest and you feel amazing!
Sleep is important to maintain both physical and mental health. It is important to understand that during sleep our bodies are busy repairing, becoming stronger and processing memories and events. Sleep allows our bodies to consolidate and solidify all the occurrences that have happened during the day. Adequate sleep gives us improved memory function and gives our physical bodies the chance to repair damaged obtained during the day.
What happens without rest?
When you don’t have enough sleep your immune system is lowered and the body is not able to fight off illness when exposed. Not enough sleep is also associated with an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, and some forms of heart disease. When we don’t have enough sleep we are unable to think clearly, have a poor memory, and it is difficult to make appropriate and rational decisions.
A study on over 20,000 adults revealed that a lack of sleep was associated with increased weight gain. This, in turn, can be an additional factor for the onset of type two diabetes and other health issues.
For children sleep is essential. Without adequate sleep, there is a significant likely hood of behavioral issues, inability to learn at school and eventually can attribute to mental health problems. During the teenage years, lack of sleep is involved in an increased possibility of a high-risk lifestyle.
What does rest do?
During sleep, we have a pattern of two types of sleep that alternate, called REM (Rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement). NREM is the first stage, which has 3 components to it. N1 is the stage between being awake and falling asleep. N2, when your temperature drops, and heart rate and breathing are regular and N3 which is the deepest and most restorative part of sleep. During N3 your blood pressure and heart rate drop and your muscles relax. This is the time when there is an increased blood supply to the muscles. This repairs and regrows muscle tissue and restores energy. There are a number of hormones released such as the growth hormone which helps you grow and develop.
REM is the second stage and is about 25% of your sleep. This is when energy is provided to the body and is essential for good mental performance during the day. All of your muscles are turned off and it is during REM sleep that you dream.
Sleep helps your body to repair and your brain to have better memory and thought processes.
How to get adequate and appropriate rest?
Due to our fast-paced lifestyles, most people in western society do not get enough sleep. The recommended sleep hours are; Newborns (0-3months) 14-17 hrs, Infants (Under 12 months) 12-15hrs, Toddler (1-2yrs) 11-14hrs, Preschool (3-5yrs) 10-13 hrs, School age (6-13) 9-12hrs, Teenager (14-17) 8-10hrs, Young adult (18-25) 7-9hrs, Adult (26-64) 7-9hrs, Older Adult (64+) 7-8hrs.
These hours are variable and slightly more or less is not an issue.
To obtain proper rest have regular hours for sleep. Remember that the hours before midnight are worth two after.
In this society, we tend to overuse our mobile phones, TV, and other devices. The light emitted from these devices is called blue light and interrupts the release of melatonin (a hormone which helps us sleep). In an ideal situation, when it begins to get dark, put away your phone and devices and switch off your TV. In reality, give yourself 1.5 hrs of screen-free time before bed. Aim at reducing major stressors in your life. These things cause mental tension and disrupt natural sleep patterns.
The most essential part of true rest?
Be at peace with yourself and others.