Prioritize Rest

This week we’re on vacation and fittingly, our second recommendation for a healthful and joyful life is to prioritize rest.

To keep this topic simple, we’ll divide this recommendation into 2 parts:

  1. Getting quality, restful sleep.
  2. Restorative practices that help recovery from training and… life.

First, regarding sleep- we’re not going to tell you a specific number of hours of sleep you should get each night- you know how you feel after too few hours and you know how you feel after a quality amount of time snoozing. Our only recommendation is that you take your sleep health seriously. This cane challenging for the movers and shakers- we get it! There’s so much to do and so little time; “I’ll sleep (or relax) when I’m dead” as the saying goes. The truth is, more research is showing that the dead part may happen sooner as a result of being under-slept and cramming our days with the go-go-go daily grind from when we wake until we hit the hay. Our bodies need to sleep. It’s not a matter of opinion or even temperament- meaning you can not escape the biological requirement of sleep because of your “special” circumstances.

“Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Sleep deficiency also increases the risk of obesity. For example, one study of teenagers showed that with each hour of sleep lost, the odds of becoming obese went up.

Sleep deficiency increases the risk of obesity in other age groups as well. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you’re well-rested. Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes.” -read more here

Moving on…

Rest, as an intentional behavior, can be especially challenging for us mortal humans. Some folks hold a belief that including down-time in their daily or weekly to-do list is not an option.

Others only take time when their bodies require (i.e. sickness) it. Others still will over train and not actually reap the full benefits of the training. Remember, we train to break down muscle; it is in the repair and recovery phase that we build strength. We can’t stress stress enough how crucial rest is- not only to your well-being- but also to reaping the benefits of your weekly training session. And if you’re stacking the exercise and activity day in and day out you run the risk of over training, which can lead to fatigue, suppressed immune function, failed weight loss efforts, and injury- among other things. Read more about over training syndrome here. (Of course, don’t think we’re advocating for a sedentary life, either. More on that in a few weeks.) Rest and relaxation benefits everybody— not just athletes and those pushing their physical threshold regularly. It releases muscle tension, lowers blood pressure and slows the heart and breath rates

In closing, what goes up, must go down. Each of us are finite beings with finite energy available. Said differently, superheroes and their ability to keep on charging are a work of fiction.

Actionable Steps to “Prioritize Rest”

    • Prioritize sleep— even if the daily tasks are not complete. They’ll be there for you tomorrow, and the likelihood of you completing your tasks with efficiency and thoughtfulness increases the more rested you are. Chooses a bed time for yourself and take that commitment seriously.
    • Practice and evening bedtime routine, beginning 30 minutes before you get in bed. You might try a sleepy time tea or listening to a meditation. There is plenty of research to support the idea of eliminating blue light (digital screens) 30 minutes before bed for better sleep as the wave lengths can disrupt melatonin production.
    • Choose one hour (minimum) a week where you practice intentional rest. It might be a yin yoga class, or a nap, or just walking slowly and peacefully along the river. The purpose is simply to practice slowing down and giving your body and mind the opportunity to heal, recover, integrate, all the hard and joyous work that you’re doing in life. This article sums it all up perfectly.

In closing, what goes up, must go down. Each of us are finite beings with finite energy available. Said differently, superheroes and their ability to keep on charging are a work of fiction.

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

— John Lubbock, The Use Of Life