// Rest

Life can be so hectic that it is sometimes hard to switch to a lower gear and get some rest. According to a 2005-07 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28% of U.S. adults average six hours or less of sleep per night.  About 11% of the population suffers from insomnia of some kind.  Quality sleep eludes us as our minds continue to race, multi-task and achieve more.

We know all too well how to push ourselves, how to energize and caffeinate ourselves and keep going. As a culture, we are very good at amping up our nervous systems, but how much attention do we pay to the rest and restore counterpart of our nervous systems?

Allowing time for the body to rest and rejuvenate is critical for our overall wellness. Lack of sleep can result in depression, dizziness, weight loss or gain, heart disease, high blood pressure, irritability and memory loss. It can also lower motivation to exercise and eat right and decrease work productivity.

During sleep is when the brain processes and consolidates the new material we have learned and stores our memories. So when we lose a night’s sleep, not only do we feel less sharp in our thinking the next day, we truly are at a cognitive disadvantage in the longer term, as our brain missed the opportunity to efficiently store yesterday’s learning.

One way to improve the quality of your rest is to make a sleep hygiene plan. That is, set the stage for a quality night of sleep instead of hopping in the bed and expecting to go from 60 mph to 0. Here are some sleep hygiene strategies:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Have a wind-down process that involves dimming the lights and limiting TV or computer use for up to an hour before bed
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and a comfortable temperature for sleeping.

Our bodies have natural circadian rhythms. Living in harmony with them, instead of working to trump them, and getting an appropriate amount of sleep and rejuvenation are the keys to living an increasingly healthy, joyful and productive life.

Suggested resources to get started on your Rest practice:

Online Resources

Huffington Post co-founder calls us to a sleep revolution

CDC information on Sleep and Sleep Disorders

How lack of sleep increases risk of heart attacks, even for those who are fit

Lack of sleep causes changes that look like premature aging:

Lack of deep sleep may increase risk of type 2 diabetes

A Lack of sleep makes it harder to lose weight

Additional Resources

For information about food safety, diet, and nutrition, check out the European Food Information Council