Are you one of those who tend to work continually and do not know when your body needs rest?
To some people, working almost non-stop is a matter of pride. They boast of having slept only two or three hours for the night.
They stock up on stimulants like coffee and the latest booster – the grand variety of energy drinks. Always on the go like the energizer bunny they seem to never tire or get fatigued.
Rest, what’s that? they say. How can I rest when there is so much to do and so little time to do it? And off they go, leaving you wondering if something’s wrong with you since you know that you need and always try to get, 6 – 8 hours of sleep per night.
Do they have it right, or are you doing that which is needed to assist in providing you with maximum health?
Rest – who needs it
When you think if rest, what comes to mind? Do you see yourself sleeping, relaxing on a beach or by a poolside?
When do you rest?
Do you know that man rested before he ever worked and continues to rest before he ever expends one joule of energy in performing a task?
From the time that man was created, before he had spent a full day – 24 hours – on the face of this earth, he rested. That tells me that rest is not solely about work or being tired but that there is more to it.
If you believe in the creation account – the Bible, then you’ll most likely accept that God created the world in which we live and all things in the world. That includes mankind. The Bible states that man was created on the 6th day of creation, after everything else was brought into existence.
Then, after presenting the first man – Adam, with his wife – Eve, God rested. He left off creating. So that the first full day that man spent on this earth was in rest even though he had not done any work.
God named that day “the Sabbath” or rest. The scriptures further tells us that there is something special about the 7th day, more than all the rest. God “blessed and sanctified” that day, something that He did not do for any other day of the week.
So resting as He did on that day is superior to rest on any other day. There’s a blessing that comes with the 7th day that does not and cannot come with any of the other six days that we may choose as our day to rest.
Babies too, rest before they work. As a matter of fact, no human being has ever come into this world working before rest. We rest, and then we work.
So the infant from conception to birth and even after birth, experiences rest and as they grow older, the time needed for rest decreases until it levels out in adulthood.
Isn’t that profound? Doesn’t it say that there is great importance in rest?
Who needs rest? It may be safe to say that all living organisms need rest. Every human being needs rest, no matter their age. A lack of rest can prove very harmful to the body. More so when the individual or his physician does not realize/diagnose that the presenting symptoms indicate a need for rest, most times, sleep.
Everyone, no matter their age, needs rest. Some for longer periods than others and in a different from but all are in need of it.
Different types of rest
Most of us seldom think of it but rest can be placed into different categories. There are four main categories that can be considered: passive rest, active rest, social rest, and sleep.
This is the rest that we are often rebuked for, the rest that you get when you appear to be doing nothing even though there is so much to be done. You’re lying in your hammock, looking up at the sky and get lost in your thoughts.
Used rightly, passive rest can be very therapeutic as it allows you to make decisions and think out issues.
This type of rest is becoming more and more needful since persons tend not to give themselves much of it anymore. As soon as they are inactive, the smart phone comes out.
There’s no time for deep thought.
Hence, the reason for the increase in regrettable decisions.
Some people refer to this as their hobby since they enjoy it so much. It can go from a daily walk, ride or swim, to “taking a sweat” with friend while playing a game of small goal soccer, or doing some gardening after a day at the office.
This type of rest can help change a person’s mood and help them to refocus especially after having spent a day trying to keep up with our present fast paced world.
This is the time you spend with friends and family. Not in the modern way where the cell phone is the only medium of communication but in that not totally forgotten fashion of having a cook out or day at the beach where everyone is invited to participate. Cares are put aside for a time and people relax and have fun with each other.
We will all agree that everyone needs sleep. It is a type of rest that is taken for granted and is becoming more are more under- utilized in our modern age.
The screen – cinema, television, computer, tablet and smart-phone – captivate our attention and has the ability to keep us awake far later into the night than is healthy. Or could it be that we surrender our ability to go to sleep on time and instead stay up doing frivolous things that does not need to be done or can be left for another day.
If this is you, then you may need to stop and take stock of your situation. Sleep deprivation has serious consequences for our health and the well-being of those around us.
Let me briefly share with you a memory that I would prefer not recall.
I was working and attending school in the evening after work. School ended between 8 and 9 pm four nights per week. By the time I got home each night it would be about 10.30 pm.
I would eat – not a good health practice, spend some time with my wife and children and try to do some studies before I went to bed. You can imagine how much sleep I got and that with a stomach attempting to digest the heavy meal I had just filled it with. But all appeared well.
One evening, on the drive up to class I began to feel sleepy. I was about 30 minutes away from the school and I had company so I figured I’d get there safely. We were chatting and every minute that passed meant I was closer to my destination.
Then I heard her scream my name and by the time my eyes flew open a man’s body was rolling up my windscreen. I brought the car to a stop. No longer sleepy I ran back to where the body had fallen off my car unto the side of the road.
He appeared dead and I was in shock. Soon after, the emergency team arrived and took charge. They strapped him unto a stretcher and headed for the hospital.
Days later when I visited him, I got the news that the doctors had to amputate one of his legs. Since then, I do not drive if I am sleepy and if it comes on while I am driving, I pull over and catch a nap. I do not want a repeat.
That was my experience and someone else suffered while I didn’t even consider what my lack of sleep was doing to me.
We need to sleep daily or rather nightly. The amount needed for each individual would vary according to the life they lead. The person who is sedentary may need a bit less than the man who does heavy work.
It is advised that two hours sleep before midnight is worth more to the “brain worker” than most of the hours after midnight.
The latest recommendation of the National Sleep Foundation (American) for the different age groups are as follows:
- Newborns (0 – 3 months old): 14 to 17 hours per day
- Infants (4 – 11 months old): 12 to 15 hours per day
- Toddlers (1 – 2 years old): 11 to 14 hours per day
- Preschoolers (3 – 5 years old): 10 to 13 hours per day
- School age children (6 – 13 years old): 9 to 11 hours per day
- Teenagers (14 – 17 years old): 8 – 10 hours per day
- Young adults (18 – 25 years old): 7 to 9 hours per day
- Adults (26 – 64 years old): 7 to 9 hours per day
- Older adults (65+ years old): 7 to 8 hours.
Ignoring any one of the above mentioned type of rest may lead to an imbalance in life and ultimately to disharmony and death. On the other hand, the benefits are to our advantage.
It’s for your benefit
The benefits of social, active and passive rest may be easily identified by individuals. We engage in it without hesitation, most times from the fun we derive from it.
We also sleep because it’s a natural function of the body. No one can go for long without sleep. The body tells us when it is time to rest, to sleep. We have the power to ignore those signals and deny ourselves the rest that we need – to our detriment and maybe that of others too.
While we sleep, the body recharges the immune system. This ensures that we can operate at our maximum potential.
A lack of sleep or too much sleep can interfere with this process and result in illness racking the body. Research has revealed that a lack of sleep can impair one’s judgment so that it is advisable that if you did not rest well then be very careful about making serious decisions.
If you realize that you are gaining weight and you are one who sits up late into the night, it may not be so much because you are losing sleep but because while you are up, you eat. Since your body does not burn many calories at night, it is stored as fat, hence the additional weight.
Once the immune system has been compromised, we are open to contracting almost any lifestyle disease. Lack of sleep may contribute to an increased of cancer, hypertension, diabetes, heart problems, memory loss, poor libido, flu, the common cold and a lack of energy.
To those who are concerned about their looks, not getting enough sleep results in ‘bags’ forming beneath the eyes and a horrible appearance.
Worry can also result in loss of sleep which in turn makes us irritable and sometimes hard to deal with. If we have unresolved issues, it is advised that we do not worry and that they be resolved before night fall.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:34
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Ephesians 4:26
It therefore is to the benefit of all that each individual get adequate sleep nightly. For the person recovering from an illness, this type of rest is also indispensable for good recovery.
We were designed to rest in cycles. There is daily rest, weekly rest and at times, yearly rest. All have been proven helpful and healthful for the proper functioning of the body.
No one can go without rest for extended periods without doing harm to himself and at times to others. Even while performing tasks that we enjoy, we pause to rest, even if only for a few seconds.
The person performing hard labor has to pause frequently and rest. The one doing more mental work also pauses to rest the organ most exercised at that time.
We were however designed to rest for at least 8 hours per day in addition to the rest – breaks – we take while performing our daily routine. Researchers calculate that we spend at least one third of our lives sleeping.
So at least one third of each day is spent resting while our body do what is needful for us to function in our most healthy state.
Hardly anyone objects to the daily sleep routine but there is confusion over the weekly rest cycle.
Some choose to rest on a Thursday, others say Friday, still others Saturday and the majority who argue for a weekly rest, want to do so on a Sunday.
I am a firm believer in following the manufacturer’s specifications. Most people try to do so and either read the manual for themselves or depend on those who have done so.
The dangerous thing about depending on others to read the manual and tell you what it says is that they may not read it thoroughly, they may misunderstand some things or they may not tell you al that you need to know.
It’s the same for the manual that has been written for human guidance. If you are a Christian, then you will take that to be the Bible. If so, then the day that the Manufacturer – God – has given for weekly rest is the seventh day which today we call Saturday, but which He named Sabbath.
You will recall that earlier I said that the day was not only about rest, since man had not even worked when he rested.
It is also about worship and fellowship.
Worship of the Creator and fellowship with our fellowmen that is different to what we do on any other day of the week.
I see it as a weekly date with God, a commemoration of the fact that He created all things including human-kind, sustains all things and is therefore worthy of our gratitude and love.
This rest, on this day, supersedes all others, for with it comes a blessing that we cannot/will not receive when we rest on any other day. This weekly rest has been largely ignored to our detriment.
It has robbed us of the benefits of having that close communion with the Creator.
Especially the spiritual benefits.
This type of rest was also instituted by the Creator in celebration of different events in the life of the Jewish nations. It reoccurred once every year.
Today, these have been largely replaced by our own rests, feast days or holidays and they do bring a period when we can take a break from our usual routine and spend time with loved one’s or even alone if we so choose.
All of us need rest at one time or another, whether it is that very short break that allows us to catch our breath or a longer one that allows our body to recuperate from the stress that we had put it under.
Our body signals to us when we need that rest. It may be quite harmful to us and detrimental for us and others to ignore the signal.
Using stimulants to ward of the impulse that helps us to know when to rest is dangerous.
You can know when your body needs rest by listening to it and obeying. The more we pay attention to our body signals, the easier it would be to recognize the signs that say, “time to rest”.
In that way, we would be able to manage the daily, weekly and yearly rest that we need. More so if we do it in harmony with the Creators specifications.
Resting when our body need it is a sure way to work at maintaining that healthy lifestyle.
If you benefited from this or have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or ask your questions in the space provided below.