Two weeks ago we talked about the importance of nutrition. This week we’ll talk about rest. Some think that rest/sleep is the most important thing for our health, more important than nutrition. This may be true if you think about it this way: You could go weeks without eating, but you can’t go 4 days without sleep. Nobody is happy and cheerful when they get too little sleep.
Adequate sleep is oftentimes described as an average of 8 hours of sleep if not more, although the elderly usually need more. This is important to your health in that, it is during sleep and relaxing that the body restores and repairs itself from the day’s work and activities. Rest helps promote growth, healing and it also prevents and minimizes pain. Rest also helps the body fast, by allowing your gut to put food through further digestion and absorption, and prepare waste. This is all part of the body’s normal daily rhythm. It is a sort-of “reset” for the GI tract, which resumes its active function the following day when you start eating again.
To ensure you get adequate rest, you should follow a regular sleep cycle adjusting with time changes. Some say let the body determine when it has had enough sleep. If you can, the best thing you can do for your sleep cycle is to get rid of your alarm clock. This may not be realistic, but if you do get up too early, you’re going to have a sleep deficit that you will have to make up at some future time. So when you have a chance you will sleep longer and correct that deficit.
Also, go to bed the same time each day and wake up the same time each day. Again, this may not be totally realistic. However, if your body is use to going to bed around the same time each night, it is then easier to fall asleep. Don’t read or watch TV in bed either, because then your body is trained to be awake to do those activities, instead of being trained to fall asleep.
Lastly, be aware of your sleep positions. Please try not to sleep on your stomach as it will put extra stress on your spine. The best position is on your side with a pillow between your knees. Try to keep your spine stable, as the spine is your life line to health.