Posted by: kathryngraves | April 12, 2017

Give It a Rest

Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Is your life so crazy you only spend a few hours in bed before getting up and doing it all over again? Are you tired all the time? This was me  not so long ago–and on occasion still is.

We all know rest is important, but it seems like we can never get enough of it. We cite all sorts of reasons: technology use late at night, TV in the bedroom, teenage kids we wait up for, work that comes home with us and must be finished before morning, and on it goes. Often, when we finally do crawl in, our brains keep whirling and just won’t shut down.

How can we stop the madness to get the rest we need? And what happens to us if we don’t? Maybe I need to address the second question first. Our bodies were designed with a built-in need for rest. God gave us the example to follow when He worked six days to create and then rested from His labor on the seventh.

When we don’t get the rest we need, our brains become foggy, we make mistakes at work, we might fall asleep while driving, and eventually we get sick. Our bodies demand rest, and if we don’t give it to them willingly, they take it by force. Jordan Rubin says in his book, The Great Physician’s Rx for Health and Wellness, that rest is the most important non-nutritive thing we can do for our bodies.

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Photo: Pixabay

So how can we make sure we get that needed rest? There are several environmental steps we can take:

  • Make sure your bedroom is pitch dark. Eliminate any lights from electronics, clocks, TV’s, and your windows. If this isn’t possible or practical in your situation, invest in a good sleep mask.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night and make that time early enough so you can get eight hours in bed before the alarm goes off in the morning.
  • Turn your electronic devices off at least an hour, preferably two hours, before bedtime. Any blue backlighting will inhibit REM sleep. (Rapid Eye Movement sleep is deep sleep–the kind we can’t do without.) I use the setting on my iPhone to turn its backlight yellow after 8:00 pm.
  • Try to use lower lighting and yellow-hued lighting after the sun goes down. This will help your circadian rhythm stay normal. Using bright artificial, especially blue-hued, lights after dark interrupts that rhythm.
  • Avoid caffeine after supper.
  • Make sure you get enough magnesium. It is a natural muscle relaxer. Try taking a 20-minute soaking bath with two cups of Epsom Salts just before bed. Your body will absorb magnesium from the water.

There is something else you can do that I think is often overlooked. We need to be tired enough to sleep. If our days are spent working at a desk or otherwise mostly sitting, our bodies won’t become tired. Exercise is the key. I wrote in another post about being sore after painting a house for a day. But something else happened.  I fell into bed exhausted and slept soundly all the way until morning. I’m not advocating anything so extreme as all-day workouts, but moving around all day is helpful, along with targeted exercise.

  • Try to walk as far as you can each day. Use a fitness device, or even your phone, to record your steps. Aim for 10,000 per day. If that sounds like too many, set a goal you think you can reach and work up from there. You can park in the spot farthest from the door at work and when shopping, take the stairs instead of the elevator, take mini-breaks from sitting at your desk and use your lunch break to walk.
  • Start your day with a 20- or 30-minute workout. It doesn’t really matter what you do, just something that will raise your heart rate and work your muscles. Also, it’s best if it is not the same thing every day. You might try lifting weights every other day and doing an aerobic routine every other day. Small hand weights are a good place to start if weight training is new to you. YouTube is a good place to find help.
  • Make it fun. I love to walk outside. I also enjoy yoga and weight training. So when my 30 Day Revolution yoga video on YouTube is complete, I may do a few weeks of weight training before I find another yoga routine to follow. My son, Jeremy, and his wife, Glen, are runners. They spend time together running. They even sometimes include our grandson, Carson, who is only seven years old, and the dog.
  • Do not exercise right before bed. The endorphins will keep you awake. Try to allow a few hours between your workout and bedtime. Use the time to wind down. This is a good time for Bible reading and prayer if mornings are a difficult time.

There is more to say on the topic of rest, but for now, I think I need to rest!

Have you tried any of these techniques? Have they helped you sleep longer and better? Do you have any other ideas? I’d love to hear them if you do.

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