Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Beauty of Rest

     Rest is the first thing to be sacrificed when the demands of the day become overwhelming. It isn't just the schedule which can be disruptive but also activities prior to going to bed. Rest is vital to health! Adequate rest produces the following benefits:
  • improved learning and memory, before and after introduction to a new task
  • better emotional stability
  • increased immune response resulting in a lessened incidence of illness
  • healthier, more age-appropriate appearance
  • greater clarity in judgement
  • increased motivation to perform tasks
  • superior task performance
Conversely, sleep deprivation produces negative effects such as:
  • decreased learning and memory retention
  • higher incidence of anxiety and depression
  • frequent illnesses
  • physical aging beyond actual years
  • decrease in the ability to form clear thoughts and perceptions
  • greater safety risks, both accident or injury to self and others
  • slower performance at tasks
  • higher risk for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even mortality
     I am well aquainted with this matter. I'm an early bird that has developed the habits of a night owl, and the results have been a tremendous difficulty. I am at my worst when I am lacking sleep, and yet I also struggle to fully return myself to the "early to bed, early to rise" routine. It isn't just how sleep deprivation affects me that warrants a change, but more importantly the impact it has on my husband and our home.
     I've learned a handful of ways to promote sufficient rest in life. First, it may seen juvenile, but establish a bedtime routine. The body needs consistency, regardless of age. By establishing a routine we establish the message that now is the time to begin winding down and preparing for sleep. Include activities which encourage calm and tranquility. Turn down the lights (use a lamp) and turn off the screens. I know there are claims that the television aids in falling asleep, but research has shown many times that the high frequency of lights, motions, and sounds keep the brain alert. If simply having noise is desired, then select something instrumental or soft singing. Beats and voices also keep the brain alert. My favorite bedtime activity is reading peaceful book or the Bible. Choose something that will end your day on a positive or encouraging note. Lastly, an herbal tea may be helpful in inducing sleep. These are commonly found in the grocery and typically contain camomile and other herbs*. Dim lights, soft music, reading and tea have become my evening sequence. I'd like to add stretching (yoga, pilates) to the list since it also promotes relaxation and health. My greatest challenge at this moment is to establish a time to begin the routine so that I can be alseep at a reasonable hour. I have never been and never will be a genuine night owl. Doing so is cutting off my ability to serve and love my husband fully, as well as others. This is my heart, and this is what I need to work to focus better on.

*Disclaimer: Always use best judgement when using herbal remedies. They ought to be treated as conventional medication with consideration of interactions with health condititions or other medications. In other words, do some research and be well informed.


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