“He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities.”—Benjamin Franklin, The Way to Wealth
Rest is not a luxury. While we may feel guilty for taking rest breaks in life, they are essential to our wellbeing. Rest is fundamental to success, health, and happiness.
If you think that a quad-shot espresso beverage can compensate for pulling an all-nighter, read on to see how rest does more than give you energy. Its restorative power is vital to the proper function of your body in a multitude of ways.
Rest heals and restores.
We all know from experience that the better rested we are, the better our energy, speed, coordination, and allover physical and mental performance intensity.
A study published by Harvard School of Public Health Medical explains how sleep allows cells and tissues a chance to “recover from the wear and tear of daily life.” The study reports that “major restorative functions in the body such as tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis occur almost exclusively during sleep.”
In other human and animal sleep studies, scientists have determined that “insufficient sleep may cause health problems by altering levels of the hormones involved in such processes as metabolism, appetite regulation, and stress response.”
Take the time to take a break. “Ten minutes is better than zero minutes,” says Shannon Brogdon, assistant program director at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Western Psychiatric Hospital.
It’s important to plan out your breaks to maximize your time. Make every moment count. Decide what constitutes the most beneficial rest break for you, personally. A brisk walk, warm bath, hot yoga? How do you unwind and recharge?
Rest can make you happier.
Just like a cranky baby who needs sleep, a sleep-deprived person is often plagued with a whole range of negative thoughts and emotions.
Sleep seems to play a big role in our happiness. A study on life satisfaction, published by Daniel Kahneman and Alan B. Krueger, demonstrated direct correlation between sleep quality and overall happiness. In fact, they found sleep quality was the single most influential factor in rating daily mood, too.
Rest boosts your immune system.
Dr. Eric Olson at Mayo Clinic explains how lack of sleep weakens our immune system and makes our bodies more susceptible to viruses, while taking regular periods of rest and sleep helps fight off viruses.
“Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.”
Sleep can affect long-term health too. A Harvard University study published by Dr. Ann Rogers showed how “insulin resistance, which is associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” is affected by sleep and, she warns, “can be very quickly induced by a single night’s total sleep loss.”
Rest supports mental and emotional fitness.
Harvard Health explains how “neuroimaging and neurochemistry studies suggest that a good night’s sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience. On the other hand, chronic sleep disruptions set the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.”
Turning your body ‘off’ periodically can significantly improve your physical, emotional, and mental health. “Taking a mental health day can help you avoid hitting the point where you’re unmotivated and overwhelmed, says Neda Gould, PhD, Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Anxiety Disorders Clinic in Baltimore. “What we know from the science is that people who burn out don’t take breaks.”
Rest improves memory.
If you’ve ever had trouble absorbing what you see, hear, read, or reread, it could be due to lack of sleep. Adequate sleep helps cement our memories. Scientists think that “while we sleep, memories and skills are shifted to more efficient and permanent brain regions, making for higher proficiency the next day.”
In a study of how the brain processes and improves memory, the National Sleep Foundation determined that during sleep, “the centers of the brain that control speed and accuracy are more active than those regions in people who haven’t slept.” Lack of sleep shuts down our focus and concentration which then impacts memory and productivity.
Rest stimulates creativity and innovation.
People synthesize new ideas during sleep. Studies say that REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, actually contributes tremendously in making people become more creative. Scientists at UC San Diego found that “participants scored 40% better on a creativity test after REM sleep. REM seems to spark solutions to new creative problems better than any other stage of sleep, suggesting that ‘sleep on it’ may, in fact, be sound advice.”
Rest beautifies —it slows down the aging process.
Perhaps one of the most interesting benefits of sleep is its ability to delay aging. We all worry about our wrinkles, creases, and lines on our skin. Of course, we all age, but a tired person usually looks aged before their time, as opposed to someone who takes time to relax and unwind, slowing the clock. That person ages gracefully.
There are several factors that can help slow down the aging process, and one of them is getting a good night’s sleep regularly.
Rest can ease your pain.
According to a 2015 study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Bergen, reported in the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain, scientists believe there is a direct correlation between inadequate sleep and sensitivity to pain. This may have significant and life-changing implications for people with chronic pain. For better pain tolerance, you’d better get enough sleep.
Try these 5 techniques for better rest:
With so many distractions in this brave new digital world, something always needs your attention, Unplugging is especially vital to your long-term health.
You don’t need to visit an oxygen bar if you breathe consciously. Try to take five deep breaths throughout the day, every day.
Practice healthy habits.
Follow a nightly regimen of mindful relaxation, yoga, stretching, aerobic exercise, skincare, or meditation to get you in the mood for good rest.
Recognizing small blessings boosts overall satisfaction and incites relaxation.
Reward your hard work with restorative breaks. Enjoying the fruits of your labor spurs continued hard work and leads to even greater reward.
Rest is vital to high performance.
BASIS Charter Schools students, who are renowned for consistently high achievement, learn the importance of recognizing and rewarding hard work with critical periods of rest. (And BASIS Charter Schools are among the best in the nation, by any measure.)
So, please go ahead and enjoy a nice, long, and restful winter break. Recharge your batteries. You not only deserve it, but you also cannot get by without it.
To learn more, check out these sources: