Rest . . . Can’t Skimp on it, Can’t Bank It
My precocious 4 year old great granddaughter was telling me about the seeds she had planted with daddy. She had forgotten to water them that day, so we talked about how they grow. “Every day they need water and sun. It helps them stretch and grow little by little until they become what they were intended to be.” I told her.
“What happens at night?” Elisabeth asked. “The seeds have to rest.” I said. “Nothing can grow constantly. It grows during the day and rests at night, so it can grow again tomorrow. “ She said nothing, but her big round eyes told me she was thinking about this.
How profound I can sound to a 4 year old. Later I reflected on what I had said. When our lives become super busy, over-committed, with too many goals and “To Do’s”, we lose not only effectiveness, but more importantly: REST.
We cannot rest completely with too much unfinished business. We will either put off sleep until too late for the natural rhythms to work properly, or we will lie there mentally continuing our day. Night after night, we do just three more things instead of going to bed, thinking we will catch up on our sleep on the weekend or the holiday.
Here’s what I have learned about the resting period known as sleep :
- Must be consistent, with an adequate amount each night. Check out this link to see what the Washington Post found happens when you don’t get adequate rest, we’re talking diabetes, cancer and obesity.
- Allows our cells to repair and rebuild. Harvard Medical has a good article on this. It confirms the physiological changes that occur during sleep include rebuilding and repairing cells.
- Heals our mind and spirit. A great piece from Asia One expands on this. Our minds and spirits need to rest regularly. The benefits are great and the lack affects our outlook and interactions with others negatively.
- Frees our minds and thoughts, allowing us to regroup sufficiently for a new day. So, how do we do this? You must prepare your mind to be ready to rest, when your body is ready to rest.
- Turn off the television at least an hour prior if you are a couch potato.
- Tidy your space and lay out what you will need the next morning. It is freeing, with less to remember.
- Take a bath or shower with a change into comfortable night clothes. It further sets the stage for resting.
- Sip a cup of herbal tea and read meditational material.
- If you journal, put down thoughts or commit your concerns to a list.
- Open a window.
- Use a fan, mood music or nature sounds for white noise.
- Remove all light sources.
- Finally, a little talk with your Creator always helps. It should include thanks for the good things and lessons of the day, along with placing the impossible situations we all seem to have squarely in His hands for the night.
- Gives time for our creative juices to replenish. A mind freed of concerns to the fullest extent possible is free to create. Unsolved problems by bedtime go into our subconscious. During deep sleep, our amazing minds actually solve problems. As you lazily come to wakefulness, there it is! The solutions fall into place. You wonder why you didn’t see it before!
- Cannot be banked, to catch up another night. Realize it. You are in charge of yourself!! Make a conscious decision to plan to sleep when you should be doing so. Everything will not ever be done. Give yourself permission to go to bed. Try the tips above to ready yourself. Consistent rest is the only healthy rest. You cannot “catch up later”. Your body responds best to regular rhythms and spaces for all activities, including a regular, adequate time to sleep.
- Will eventually make you sick. Lack of adequate sleep creates stress to our whole body. Our immune system also works to heal while we rest. If we consistently get less sleep than we require, our immune system weakens. We become susceptible to the colds and germs around us, that we might otherwise be able to resist.
Remember, like I shared with little Elisabeth, plants don’t grow 24 hours a day. They need a dark place to rejuvenate. So do you!
Do you over-commit?
Do you compulsively do too much before allowing yourself to rest?
Do you think that you can push, push, push, then instantly plop into bed and still sleep well?
Perhaps you have identified definite results in your own life that directly relate to your sleeping and rest habits. Please share your experiences: