When I think about rest, my memories are filled with childhood naps underneath quilts and blankets made by my late grandmother’s hands. I remember how heavy they were, but as I laid underneath them my body relaxed, I found comfort and I could drift off to sleep. To this day, when it’s time for my daily nap, I reach for my favorite childhood blanket that I like to imagine still has my grandmother’s scent.
Yes, I take daily naps. For some adults, opportunities to sleep during the day are few and far between. Some people cannot fathom the thought of pausing amidst their busy days for a brief moment to close their eyes.
Research has shown that rest is important for overall health and well-being.
First, rest is an important aspect of maintaining physical health. Rest helps the body to recover from physical activity. It allows muscles to repair and regenerate, reducing the risk of injury and promoting physical performance. Rest has been linked to improved cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and other related conditions. Sleep has also been shown to enhance immune function and reduce the risk of developing illness.
Second, rest is crucial for cognitive functioning. Sleep has been shown to improve memory, concentration, and decision-making abilities. Inadequate sleep can lead to decreased cognitive performance and increased risk of developing mental health conditions.
Third, rest is important for emotional regulation and stress management. Sleep and rest have been shown to reduce stress and improve mood, helping individuals to better cope with life’s challenges.
Ways to get the rest you need
There are many different ways that people can rest, each with its own unique benefits. Here are a few of the most popular methods:
Sleep: Sleep is the most obvious form of rest. Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and establish a consistent sleep routine to ensure that you are getting the rest you need. A sleep routine can have many benefits, including: increased productivity, reduced stress, and improved mental health. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, which can lead to better quality sleep.
Nature walks: Spending time in nature is a great way to escape the distractions of modern life and connect with the natural world. Whether it’s a walk in a local park or a hike in the woods, spending time in nature can help you rest and recharge.
Music: Listening to music is a great way to relax and escape the stresses of daily life. Whether you prefer classical, R&B, or gospel, taking the time to listen to music can be a great form of rest.
Meditation: Meditation is a mindfulness practice that involves focusing on the present moment and calming the mind. Research has shown that regular meditation can help reduce stress, improve sleep, and enhance overall well-being.
Yoga: Yoga is a great way to rest the mind and body, and has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing stress, improving sleep, and enhancing overall well-being.
Reading: Reading is a great way to escape reality and rest the mind. Whether you prefer books or magazines articles, taking the time to read can be a great form of relaxation. But avoid reading on screen. The blue light from your phone or computer inhibits sleep.
Yoga Nidra: This practice is a form of deep relaxation and meditation. It is a level of rest that is between sleeping and waking, and many people find it very calming. It can promote rest and healing on both physical and emotional levels.
Yoga Nidra: A conscious rest
To learn more about yoga nidra, join Tracee Stanley, the author of Radiant Rest: Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation and Awakened Clarity at Books and Brunch with BYTA on March 19, 2023. Grab your favorite blanket or quilt, for a cozy Sunday afternoon conversation about how we can cultivate the rest we need and deserve.
Dr. Jennifer Wyatt Bourgeois (RYT-200), is BYTA’s Assistant Editor. Jennifer is also a Professor of Criminal Justice with degrees in Forensic Science and Criminal Justice. Dr. Bourgeois completed her doctoral studies in the Administration of Justice Department at Texas Southern University. She is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Justice Research and her research focuses on risk and resilient factors associated with children impacted by parental incarceration, discretionary decision-making, racial disparity in the criminal justice system, and the intersection of yoga and social justice.