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Rest: More Than Sleeping

Chapter contents

A) Symptoms of sleep deprivation

B) Common causes of sleep deprivation

C) Recommendations for experiencing the optimum benefits of rest

Numerous attempts have been made through the years to defy the need for rest and sleep. Until now, no one has succeeded. When the body is deprived of rest and sufficient quality sleep, a price is always exacted. We were made to spend time both resting and sleeping.

All of the organs of the body need rest, and all of them demand it. The heart rests after each beat. The lungs rest after each breath. Most other organs and functions rest while we sleep. Though scientists continue to study the physiology and biology of sleep, there is now an abundance of evidence confirming the necessity of adequate quality sleep for people of all ages. While sleep requirements vary from person to person, the fact remains that everyone must have enough. Regularity with sleep, as well as in all of life, is also critical for optimum sleep benefits.

Other forms of rest are equally as important as sleep. This was classically demonstrated during the Second World War when factory workers improved their work output when they were given rest breaks during the workday. Vacations and Sabbaths are equally beneficial.

Unfortunately, few of us in modern society take advantage of regular habits of sleep and rest.

A) Symptoms of sleep deprivation

Nearly everyone is familiar with what it feels like to miss a night of sleep. “Sandy” eyes, reduced alertness, more difficulty concentrating, headaches, and many other symptoms convince us of the need of a good night’s sleep.

Chronic sleep loss is an even greater problem that may produce many of the same symptoms, but others of greater significance as well. These may include such things as irritability, forgetfulness, mood swings, depression, anxiety, worsening of inflammation with resulting increase of pain, increased proneness to accidents, and a significant increase in disease.

Recent research suggests that hyperactivity in children may have its roots in sleep deprivation.

B) Common causes of sleep deprivation

Illness: The pain of arthritis, difficulty of breathing for persons with lung conditions, the uncontrolled thoughts of the anxious, the frequent need to void by patients with bladder spasms or prostate enlargement—the list is endless, but reminds us that illness is one of the primary causes of chronic sleep loss. Not only do people who are ill have trouble sleeping, but family members caring for ill relatives are often required to work day and night giving needed care.

Babies: Though babies may be trained to sleep most of the night, new mothers are frequently deprived of sleep when their children need feeding and basic care.

Work: Night shifts, swing shifts, international travel across time zones, long work hours, high levels of responsibility, interpersonal problems, and job stress may all take their toll on one’s sleep requirements.

Lifestyle habits: Late night television, heavy evening meals, going to bed after midnight, and similar disregard for regularity and moderation in lifestyle practices, all contribute to lack of adequate quality rest, even though the total number of hours spent in sleep may be adequate.

Noise: Noise is a frequent cause for loss of quality sleep. Even though the human brain is quite effective in “blocking” the consciousness of noise, many of its physiologic effects persist when the radio or television is blaring, the traffic is rushing, people are talking, etc.

Drugs, medications: Caffeine containing drinks are certainly some of the most commonly used drugs that give the brain a “kick.” But there are many other drugs that stimulate the brain as well. These include those used for “recreational” purposes, over-the-counter meds, and prescription meds. Of at least equal concern are the various sedatives, sleeping pills, and herbs that sedate. They are often habit forming or addictive while failing to provide physiologic sleep.

The stress of modern life: Worry, fear, guilt, and a myriad of other forces working on the minds and bodies of modern men not only keep people agitated during the day, but prevent sound sleep as well at night.

C) Recommendations for experiencing the optimum benefits of rest

1. Sleep

Please consider the following suggestions:

Most people require 5–9 hours of sleep nightly with and average of 7–8. Unless your sleeping times are frequently disrupted you will know how much sleep you need to function at your best. If because of sleep disruptions you rarely if ever really feel rested after sleep, it is proper to assume that you need 7–8 hours. Make this your goal until experience shows you otherwise.

Establish a set time to go to bed and to get up. Be certain it begins at least an hour or two before midnight.

Sleeping quarters should be comfortable, dark, quiet, and have ample quantities of fresh air. This may necessitate pulling the blinds, turning out the lights, or even covering the eyes with opaque blinders or patches; turning off all TVs, radios, and other electronic appliances, closing doors, or wearing ear plugs; and opening the windows, turning on the air-conditioner, air filter or whatever other measures you need to take to assure clean, unpolluted air.

Avoid heavy evening meals. Attempt to eat the majority of your daily calories by mid afternoon. If you need an evening meal, make it light and easily digestible, and eat at least several hours before bedtime.

Eliminate caffeine containing drinks and other drugs unless a medically prescribed necessity.

Exercise is health promoting and will improve sleep. Do it daily, but avoid vigorous exercise just before bedtime.

Water is necessary for health, but limit your intake before bedtime, especially if you are awakened repeatedly during the night to void.

Learn to live with the necessary stresses of life in health promoting ways (Section V, chapter 12).

An herbal tea made from any of these herbs, or a combination of them—valerian, skullcap, hops, vervain, chamomile, and peppermint. To use in combination, mix equal parts of the first four herbs, and one half that amount of the other two. Add one teaspoonful of the herb mixture to a cup of boiling water, steep for 10 minutes, strain and drink.

A warm bath (not hot) may help you relax and prepare for sleep. A wet sheet wrap is often successful for helping an agitated person go to sleep (Section III, chapter 12, D, 2).

Apologize, confess, forgive, do whatever you need to do to make things right with man and God before turning the covers of your bed. You may very well need to have a talk with the Lord before you can talk with your fellow men, but do it, and do it in sincerity.

Reading Scripture or singing songs of gratitude and praise to God are often beneficial in preparing one to sleep peacefully.

Commit your ways unto God and trust Him to care for you and yours.

2. Periodic rest during the day

One’s efficiency often improves when interspersing periods of rest or diversion into ones activities, whether sitting before a computer for hours, digging ditches, studying for final tests, etc. The type of diversion will vary depending upon one’s work, but 10 or 15 minutes every couple hours will be time well spent, both for efficiency and health.

In planning diversionary activities, be certain they are consistent with your total health improvement program.

3. Vacations

Vacations are often beneficial for health. To be beneficial, however, they too must be consistent with one’s total health improvement program. Too often we attempt to pack too much into too little time, thereby increasing tensions at a time when tensions should be at rest. Routines and habits too are often disrupted by vacations, eating the wrong foods at inappropriate times, missing quality sleep, filling minds with things normally avoided, etc. You can think of many other ways that vacations become burdens rather than benefits. Make it a point to plan your vacations for rest and rehabilitation instead of further deterioration.

In Bible times the Israelites were instructed to go up to Jerusalem several times a year for vacation. They are a good example for us.

4. Sabbaths

Above all, do not forget your Sabbaths. God designated every Sabbath as a special time, not only to catch up on physical rest, but to refill the spiritual reservoirs as well. He has arranged His responsibilities in heaven so as to be available for special fellowship with us on that day. We are the losers if we fail to meet Him then.

Abundant research proves the health benefits of worship, to say nothing of the spiritual benefits of fellowship with God and our fellow men as well.

© Copyright 2010 by A Place of Healing.