Sleep and Rest: An Oft Ignored Essential Component to a Healthy Body

restThe five pillars of health, as defined by this site, are Mindset, Nutrition, Rest, Movement, and Social Engagement.  Everything else that’s good for you is a combination of two or more.  Weaken one of these pillars, and you open yourself up to ill health.

With life’s hectic pace, many people slip on several of these pillars, especially Nutrition, Rest, and Movement.  Time constraints, poor time management, and poor prioritizing are to blame.  That is why we have “sick care” and not health care in this country– we abuse our bodies, which often do a valiant job trying to maintain health until the accumulation of stressors take a toll in the form of fatigue, weight gain, painful joints, high blood pressure and worse.

Rest should be the easiest of the pillars to accomplish; after all, rest is basically about doing “nothing.”  How hard is it to do nothing?  Yet people still fail to get their daily dose of rest.

If you do something that makes your body feel naturally good afterwards (which rules out drugs and alcohol), that’s its way of telling you that what you just did is what it wants more of.  After a good night’s sleep, you feel rested and energetic, ready to take on the day.  Your mind is clear and your attitude is positive.  You feel refreshed.  But despite this, people willfully override this message and deprive themselves of sleep.  They stay up late watching TV as a way to “relax” at the end of the day (a poor choice if you ask me) or surf the web for the latest celebrity or negative news that isn’t worth knowing.   Many force themselves to work late into the night because to them,  their job simply “demands” it.

Whatever the excuse, it’s just an excuse.  Health should be your over-arching priority.  Without it, you can’t do the things you enjoy in life or need to do to support yourself and your family over the long haul.

If you must work late, start by making a compromise– cut the number of days in half that you are accustomed to working late.  Make arrangements with your employer.  Find ways to be more efficient.  Delegate.  Identify and eliminate wasteful and unproductive time in your daily schedule (checking emails?  phone calls?  micro-managing?  chatty co-worker?  long lunch  breaks?).  Then get to the point where you only work one day a week late, or none.  Get a minimum of eight hours sleep a night.  Better yet, also take a short 20-30 minute power nap during lunch.  Those short afternoon naps can be really effective in recharging your body, and your brain.  It will make you more productive and able to get things done in less time– freeing up more time for rest and exercise.

Posted in Rest.