Rest – Ah, that thing that is so in need of in this hyperactive, adrenaline-addicted culture in which we live. That thing that we often ignore until we feel the consequences of missing it. That thing that 48% of Americans report a lack of (insomnia) occasionally and 22% report missing every night. Insomnia in America has become epidemic and it is wreaking havoc on our health.
Rest and sleep are crucial for healing and maintenance of health. They are also imperative for optimal weight. Studies have shown that those who sleep less often weigh more!
Rest is defined as a period of inactivity when the systems of the body can restore energy that was expended during activity. The body cannot expend energy and build-up energy supplies at the same time. Rest allows the body to redirect energies for cleansing and restoration.
Sleep is defined as a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body, in which the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost so that there is a decrease in bodily movement and responsiveness to external stimuli. Sleep is essential for life and health. The benefits of sleep are:
- Regeneration of energy expended throughout the day
- Restocking of cells and organs with fuel and nutrients
- Destruction of old, damaged and toxic cells
- Replacement of old cells with new cells – the multiplication of cells during sleep is more than double that of waking hours
- The elimination of toxins from the body
- Reorganization of mental and emotional thoughts – the subconscious mind through dreams works things out mentally and emotionally
Our body’s metabolism has three separate and distinct phases every 24 hours – digestion takes place between noon and 8:00 PM, assimilation between 8 PM and 4 AM, and detoxification between 4 AM and noon. That is why it’s important to sleep at night. Most of your eating should be done from noon to 8 PM when the body is in the digestion mode. Eating in the morning prior to noon should be light to prevent disruption of the cleansing that the body is doing at that time.
Factors That Affect the Quality of Sleep
- Ideally you should sleep between 7 and 9 hours each night, depending on the amount of toxicity in your body and the energy expended prior to sleep. Listen to your body and it will let you know what you need.
- Minimize sensory interference during sleep. There should be absolutely no light while you sleep so your body produces melatonin (natural hormone made by the body’s pineal gland during sleep.) Melatonin production goes hand in hand with the light/dark cycles; therefore you need darkness to produce this vital hormone. This hormone allows you to sleep well and is often low or absent in people with insomnia. You should also have no noise that affects your sleep, unless you live in a place where there is a lot of noise that you cannot control. In that case, you can use something like a fan to provide “white” noise that keeps you from waking up from the other noise. Basically you want no distractions to your mind while sleeping.
- It’s best to focus on something positive before going to sleep to assist you in focusing on positive things in your sleep. You can accomplish this best by meditation on Scripture or reading something from a positive book. Avoid the 11 PM news!
- Exercise promotes improved sleep quality by allowing smoother and more regular transition between the cycles and phases of sleep. Exercise in the morning or afternoon, not close to bedtime. Stanford University School of Medicine researchers studied the effects of exercise on the sleep patterns of adults aged fifty-five to seventy-five who were sedentary and troubled by insomnia. The result? The time required to fall asleep was reduced by half, and sleep time increased by almost one hour.
There are many benefits of exercise besides helping you sleep well. Here are some of exercise’s benefits:
- Helps you feel better and have more energy
- Tones muscles and tissues for more effective use of strength and nutrients
- Increases circulation and delivers oxygen to the cells
- Increases lymphatic flow which aids in the removal of toxins
The best exercise is the one you’ll do!
I hope that you will incorporate proper rest and sleep as well as regular exercise in your daily health regimen in order to achieve peak health. Combined with a whole-food, plant-based diet , it’s the best recommendation I can make to help you look and feel better. And think about this, if you don’t take care of your body, where will you live?