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There are several forms of rest: sleeping at night, a restful quiet time (TV doesn’t count) and even a weekly rest (Sabbath has health benefits that go beyond physical).
Yearly - Recreate
Yearly or monthly we need some recreation time to completely rid ourselves of the daily grind, the bills, the hassles. A time to grow closer to our family. This rest is a time to debrief and debug your mind.
Weekly - Revive
The weekly cycle or ceptarian cycle is a quandary to evolutionists. It has no bearing on astronomy and yet for centuries societies have followed it. In fact, when France tried a 10 day work week, it cause all kinds of problems. We need a break from our jobs, school, chores, and other daily grinds that go on and on. One journalist from National Geographic's article on the Harvard University study on longevity said they felt the "Sabbath" the way the Seventh-Day Adventist keep it, is one of the fundamental keys to a long healthy life. For more about the Sabbath click here.
Daily - Relax & Rejuvenate
We need a few moments each day to meditate and just slow down. This is more for the mind than for the body’s health, but even still it is important. Prayer time is an essential part of this process. And of course we need sleep every night to let the body rebuild and restore. So let’s talk more about sleep.
The importance of sleep
Rest during sleep enables your body to repair cells, process information from the day, and improve the immune system. Our cognitive function is significantly reduced well we do not get enough sleep. In fact, the body will manually start to shut down if you try to not sleep in as little as 17 hours. This “shut down” is similar to drinking alcohol. Seventeen hours is the equivalent to 2 glasses of wine. How many of us health minded Christian would not get drunk, and yet we will rob our bodies of sleep and create the same effect.
The American Cancer Society found that there is a higher chance of death in individuals who sleep less than 7 hours per night (studies vary from 10% to 30%). There is even a reduced longevity for those who sleep over 9 hours per night (There is still discussion on whether there is an underlying issue that causes more sleep or whether the act of sleeping is a factor in and of itself. Regardless, if you or someone you love is sleeping over 9 hours a night see a doctor and don’t settle for pills, find the cause.
There are several physiological processes in regards to sleeping, but since our space is limited, let’s just get into the practical information.
We all know how important sleep is so we are sure to get enough right? Well, first of all what is enough? The National Sleep Institute says too much can be just a bad (or a sign something is wrong, as mentioned before) as too little. The recommend amount is 7 to 8 hours for adults, 9 for teenagers, 10 to 11 hours for 6 to 12 year-olds, and 11 to 13 for toddlers. And believe it or not the hours before midnight are worth twice as much to your body.
What about age old tips for getting sleep? Didn’t your grandma say have a glass of milk (or hot toddy) before bed? Some people do find the tryptophan in the milk relaxing, but the body has to digest the food and thus it is not getting proper rest. Ahh, not to mention the bathroom may call more often that night.
Good preparations are more important than you may think. If your body is full of chemicals or hormones that are designed to keep you awake, that is obviously problematic.
It has been found that going to bed at the same time each night is VERY important, not only for your circadian rhythm, but to help you sleep well. The body likes regularity, and it helps you to fall asleep and to sleep soundly if you are systematic. But just as important as going to bed on time, is waking up at a regular time. In fact studies show it is vital for you to get up at the same time every day, including weekends, even if you go to bed late. You can’t just make up lost sleep by sleeping in. Many people have trouble falling a sleep or staying asleep because of this one issue.
Breaking the Bad Patterns
Need help to break bad bedtime habits like not falling asleep until midnight or waking several times during the night? Try this effective program.
1. First night, go to bed when you are tired.
2. Get up as soon as you wake, or at your alarm time (5 to 7am is best), even if you only got 2 hours sleep!
3. Next night try to go to bed by your bedtime and get up as soon as you wake or your alarm time. You may have to repeat until you sleep through the night. (One or two bathroom trips don’t count unless you cannot fall asleep quickly after going to bed).
Resources for help: The National Sleep Foundation www.sleepfoundation.org or (202) 347-3471.