With the demands of daily life, who has time to rest, really rest? When you stop to consider the short and long term impact to your physical and emotional health, the real question is who can afford not to make time to rest? If you are like most people, there are little ways that you are being robbed of your rest that add up to being truly exhausted day in and day out. In order to compensate, it's easy to turn to shortcuts to help get us through the next few hours like one cup of coffee after another, a quick sugar fix, or some other food or beverage loaded with excess calories.
Before you get too discouraged, there are a few simple things you can do to get real rest, the type of rest that is renewing, rejuvenating.
Unplug - Watching TV, checking out the latest on social media, or playing a game on your phone all seem like a reasonable way to unwind at the end of the day, or for a quick break during the business of it all. These and other "mindless" activities create a false sense of rest. “There is growing direct evidence that intensive use of video games results in significant generalized improvements in cognitive function,”writes neuroscientist Michael Merzenich of the University of California San Francisco in a review in Nature Reviews Neuroscience. While this study specifically addresses video games, it proves the point the brain is at work while we think we are resting. Let's call these activities what they are. They are a way to decompress, but they are not a way to "rest". Take a small step and decide ahead of time how much TV you are going to watch tonight and what time you are going to put your phone down for the night.
Sleep - Well, that seems like a no brainier, but what is the quality of your sleep? You might be surprised. Apps and gadgets at all price points can monitor your sleep and let you know how many times you are waking up during the night or the total number of minutes of restlessness while you are sleeping. After monitoring your sleep for a week and seeing the numbers for yourself might reveal you are getting much less sleep than you realized. Here are a few tips to a good night's sleep:
- Turn the thermostat down a few degrees on your way to bed. When you begin to fall asleep your body temperature naturally lowers 1 to 2 degrees. Turning the thermostat down will help trick your body into sleep mode.
- Use thermoregulating and breathable sheets and pillows to keep your body from heating up during the night and interrupting your sleep.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet room. If you have trouble slowing your mind down at night, then keep a notepad by your bed. Write down your thought and let it go. You can try a white noise machine or at the very least set a timer to turn off any devices you have grown accustom to having on while you fall asleep.
Are you robbing yourself of real rest? It takes 21 days to create a habit. Does the thought of having more energy throughout day and increase mental alertness motivate you enough to take time to decompress, and then do the things you need to do to truly relax, rest, and rejuvenate? It is possible the things you are doing to try to get ahead are actually holding you back. Rest well!