The Importance of Rest for Your Optimal Health

If you're like most of the population, you probably feel like there isn’t enough time in a day. Maybe you are having difficulty keeping up with all of your daily tasks and deadlines. Or your to-do list doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter. Perhaps even more challenging is also maintaining your health, your career, family, and other responsibilities, leaving you overwhelmed and with little to no time for rest. 
Rest is a necessary part of maintaining good physical and mental health, our success, and ultimately our happiness. Not adequately resting can be detrimental to your long-term well-being. With so many distractions and a seemingly endless task list, it can be challenging to ensure that you have time to rest. Taking good care of yourself may require additional time and effort, but it is absolutely worth it.

Benefits of Rest

Promotes Healing of Your Body
When we start our bedtime ritual, we’re usually in the mindset that our body is shutting down as we go to sleep for the evening. On the contrary, sleep is actually a time when your body gets busy restoring and repairing its different functions. Our immune systems rely on adequate sleep because when we don’t, it is unable to properly protect the body from infection.
Sleep also causes the body to release hormones that can slow down the breathing process, and causes our muscles to relax. This process can reduce inflammation and assist in the body's healing where it needs to. This can include something as simple as soreness after an intense workout, or wound healing after surgery. 
Reduces Stress
Stressors can seem as though they are impossible to avoid and for most people those stressful periods ebb and flow. However, for someone who suffers from chronic stress, it can do much more damage, even resulting in a weakened immune system and the potential increase in diseases. 
Repeated lack of sleep can cause the body to react as if it’s in distress, known as the “fight or flight” response. This causes the release of more of the stress hormone, known as cortisol. Poor sleeping habits prevent the body from regulating its hormones overnight, therefore getting more rest can significantly decrease cortisol levels and restore balance to the body.
Improves Productivity
If you’ve ever run a marathon, (okay, or maybe just run a long distance) you know that post-run, you’ll find your legs are fatigued. Much like the muscles in our body, when our brain is overworked, it becomes less functional when it’s tired. 
Taking time off to rest will allow you to work more efficiently whenever you get back to it. This may be a short break throughout your workday or setting aside a day per week to “unplug” from the world. If rest is not made a priority, you may experience symptoms of burnout, such as being irritable, unmotivated, or just plain exhausted. 
Enhances Decision-Making Ability
Have you ever heard the old saying, “sleep on it?” Well, it turns out, there may really be something to it. Working for an extended amount of time without a break can reduce your ability to concentrate.
Additionally, our memory can become affected when we are deprived of sleep. This is because when we sleep, our brain takes time to process our memories, and help us retain them, so we can recall them at a later time. When we have adequate rest, we’re much better at problem-solving and learning new information. 

Tips on How to Get More Rest

Just taking a moment to pause and take a deep breath is a good practice, but there are several deep breathing exercises you can try for even bigger benefits. Deep breathing can help to lower blood pressure, encourage better circulation, promote better sleep, and even improve your mood! Here is a relaxing breathing technique you can do before bed:
4-7-8 Breathing
Another relaxing breathing exercise, 4-7-8 is done by breathing in through the nose for four seconds, holding the breath in for seven seconds, and then breathing out through the mouth making a "whoosh" sound for eight seconds. Cycle through this technique four times. 
You can read more about the importance of breathing here.
Set the Scene
One of the easiest things you may do to promote better sleep is to set the scene in your bedroom. Research has shown that putting away your electronic devices and the pesky blue light they emit can disrupt your ability to fall asleep. Instead, create a playlist of soothing sounds, like rain, waves on the sand, or a roaring fire. You can also try incorporating an essential oil diffuser with a calming scent, like Lavender Essential Oil.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Like many aspects of life, developing healthy habits can have a major impact on our mood, productivity, and relationships. Strong sleep hygiene means having both a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Things such as having a fixed wake-up time daily, prioritizing sleep over other activities, and not overdoing it with napping can have a positive impact on how deep you sleep. Ensuring you carve out enough time in your evening to engage in the same wind-down ritual each night is crucial to a better night’s sleep.

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