It’s important for our health that we get enough rest, but what does that actually mean? There are different types of rest that replenish the body and mind in different ways.
Do you feel as if you’re always tired? As adults we need between seven and eight hours of sleep a night, but even if you can manage that you’re often left feeling lethargic.
The reason may be that although you are sleeping, you’re not getting enough of the other types of rest. Sleep is just one of the ways our bodies and brains rest and recuperate, but there are others, and they are just as important.
Here are the different types of rest and what they do for you.
We’ll start with the most well-known type of rest – physical rest. Physical rest can be either passive or active rest.
Passive rest is when your body and mind are asleep. Sleep is crucial to everyday functioning. Without enough sleep, you can develop chronic issues relating to your heart, kidneys, blood, brain and mental health.
A lack of sleep is also associated with an overall increase in injury, due to the lack of alertness caused by drowsiness. Driver drowsiness, for example, can contribute to serious car accidents and even death. In older people, poor sleep is associated with an increased risk of falls and broken bones.
Our minds can become tired in much the same way our bodies do. If you’ve ever struggled to do work in the afternoons, it may be because you’re mentally tired and your brain needs rest.
Experts recommend taking a 10-minute break at least every two hours. Eating a snack, taking a short walk, taking deep breaths will all help to reset your brain and increase your productivity.
There are points where it would be most beneficial to stop working for the day entirely, if that’s possible.
“We can also rest our minds by being unavailable for some time and disconnecting from the internet, social media and our emails,” sleep expert Dr Frida Rangtell says. Try to take some time each day away from your phone, laptop and other devices.
The modern world is a sensory extravaganza. Artificial light from room lights, screens and other electronics bombards our eyes constantly. There is also near-constant noise, from the television, from pothers in your home and from the street outside.
You may not be aware of it, but your brain is using large amounts of energy processing all these stimuli and it can get fatigued.
“The bright lights, computer screens, the background noise of phones ringing and multiple conversations going on in the office can all cause our senses to be overwhelmed,” physician Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith says.
“If left unchecked, this can lead to sensory overload syndrome.”
Recharging your senses also involves putting down your devices for a while. Turn off all electronics, and the lights if it’s practical, and close your eyes for a few minutes.
The need for emotional rest will be different depending on your personality. If you’re a people-pleaser, it can be hard to say ‘no’ to requests for work or social activities. Eventually you find yourself worn-out and fatigued with everything you’re doing.
If this sounds familiar, you may need to take some time for emotional rest. Dr Dalton-Smith advises take a holiday from the word ‘yes’.
“Instead of saying ‘yes’ to everything, try, ‘I need to think about it’ instead,” she says.
“Give yourself a moment to weigh the pros and cons of each decision and don’t agree to do it just because someone else wants you to.”
If you’re an introvert, then you will probably be familiar with taking social rest. For introverts, social interactions can be enjoyable but are often physically and mentally draining. They need time alone to recharge before seeing people again.
But even extroverts can get burnt out from all the socialising. The expectations and demands from people in your life can be overwhelming if not managed properly.
Taking a break from socialising for a week, or even just one weekend, can leave you feeling rested and ready to go again.
Do you feel you get enough of the different types of rest? Is there a type you don’t get enough of? Let us know in the comments section below.
Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.
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