As the days shorten and the time changes, it is a time for rest and reflection. Rest, composed of sleep, relaxation, reflection and recreation, is as important to our health and wholeness as air, water, nutrition and exercise. Proper rest can improve our physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to numerous serious medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, inflammation and pain, and even early mortality.
Relaxation can give us more energy, better sleep, enhanced immunity, increased concentration, better problem-solving skills, greater efficiency, decreased stress, emotional stability, and less headaches and pain.
Rest helps us recover from the work we have done, whether it is our vocation, avocation or training. A day or two off per week is required to allow bone, muscle, tendons, ligaments, brain, and organs time to recover and repair themselves.
Relaxation gives the heart a rest by slowing the heart rate. This reduces blood pressure and slows the rate of breathing, which reduces the need for oxygen, increases blood flow to the muscles, and decreases muscle tension. Sleep can also maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Rest also keeps us healthy by keeping our immune response functioning properly. Sleep produces molecules that help strengthen our ability to fight infection. These help our cells repair and mend our body when we have been exposed to infectious microorganisms and toxins.
Sleep and rest help our brains repair itself and develop new connections, which are useful when we are learning new skills or adaptations. Memory, focus, concentration, and cognitive function improve with proper sleep and rest. Sleep also reduces the occurrence of mood disorders.
Rest can improve hormone balance. Rest lowers stress by decreasing abnormal levels of cortisol (stress hormone).This increases alertness, productivity, and general health maintenance. Proper sleep regulates hormones that control appetite and can improve weight. Proper sleep also reduces the chances of diabetes.
Rest and relaxation promote restoration and rejuvenation. Maintenance of rest and sleep are critical for overall health and energy. In a season of change, rest can be one of our biggest benefits.