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Rest vs. Sleep: Know the Difference for Whole Health

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Feeling mentally foggy and physically sluggish is all too familiar for many of us. Our on-the-go lifestyles may make us feel productive, but when pushed too far, our accomplishments can come at the expense of our health, vitality and even spiritual well-being.

Finding that delicate balance of living a fulfilled life, yet prioritizing time to rest, is an important part of our philosophy at AdventHealth and the Center for Health & Wellbeing. Discovering opportunities for both mental and physical rest might not be as challenging as you think.

For most, feeling tired or worn down might make you think you need more sleep. While quality sleep is critical to feeling whole, rest is so much more than your nightly hours of shut-eye.

Rest involves your whole being, not just your body. With complete and regular rest, you will restore your health, enhance your performance and achieve an amazing sense of wellness. So many small — but impactful — bouts of rest can be incorporated into your everyday routine.

Here are some tips to add more rest into your purpose-driven life:

1. Take a Silent Moment of Gratitude

Living in the moment is easier said than done. But in doing so, it helps calm your body and mind, allowing you to take a brief break from the daily stressors all around you. Being mindful of peaceful moments can help restore balance and make you feel whole.

In the book CREATION Life , Life Guide #2 - Rest at Its Best, the author suggests taking a mental inventory of your thoughts, or self-talk. Are they about the future or your current moment? If they’re about the future and you're feeling tense, take a mental break. Think about the moment, connect with your present feelings, see what's surrounding you and ground yourself by thinking about what you are grateful for today. This practice can zap physical and emotional stress, putting your body and mind at ease.

2. Take a Time Out

Removing yourself from a stressful situation or anxious environment might be all you need to take a mental and physical break. Think of it as your own little “time out” to connect with your thoughts, feelings and body. Even a short, calming prayer or pause can help you rejuvenate in body, mind and spirit.

You can also use this time to do some deep breathing exercises, mindful meditation or practice progressive muscle relaxation. Other ideas include doing something like listening to a song or two, a crossword puzzle or you can read something inspirational like a short verse — anything that works to ground you and bring you fully into the moment.

Want to try a breathing exercise to help center you physically and mentally? Try belly breathing with these easy steps:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees slightly bent and your head on a pillow.
  2. You may place a pillow under your knees for support.
  3. Place one hand on your upper chest and one hand below your rib cage, allowing you to feel the movement of your diaphragm.
  4. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling your stomach pressing into your hand.
  5. Keep your other hand as still as possible.
  6. Exhale using pursed lips as you tighten your stomach muscles, keeping your upper hand completely still.

3. Plan a Vacation

If you can't remember your last vacation, now may be the time to consider planning one. Whether it's a local staycation or a visit with family, vacations of any length help us to pause our daily lives and stressors. It opens our eyes, senses and perspectives to a new place, and it allows us to appreciate what we have to “come home to.”

4. Take a Nap

In many cultures, "biphasic sleep” — which includes two separate periods of sleep every 24 hours, with one in the afternoon and one at night — is the norm. While napping might not be realistic for you every day, there's a body of scientific evidence suggesting you might want to sneak in a daytime rest when you can.

CREATION Life , Life Guide #2 - Rest at Its Best, reviews a long list of studies showing that napping can:

  • Boost memory
  • Enhance productivity and concentration
  • Increase alertness
  • Improve mood
  • Stimulate creativity and problem-solving
  • Decrease risk of heart disease
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Decrease stress

5. Avoid Caffeine

If you're feeling overly anxious, stressed or jittery, caffeine can put more physical and mental stress on your body. If you're worn down or tired, look to the strategies above to rest your body. Or, get an energy boost the healthy way by drinking a nutrition-packed smoothie or some extra water to get your recommended 11.5 cups of fluid per day for women and 15.5 cups for men . You might be surprised that this alone can improve your mental alertness and energy levels.

Your Whole-Health Care Team

If you're seeking more information on how to prioritize rest and feel your best, look to the whole-health experts at AdventHealth and the Center for Health & Wellbeing.

The Center for Health & Wellbeing is where wellness, fitness and medicine all come together to help you feel whole. You’ll find the tools to live longer, and more importantly, better. It’s where you can feed your body and your mind, while staying in tune with your health. Whether you’re building your core or finding your center, this is your place.

This material is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment and/or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

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