Health – Rest, What is it?

Very few people know what the word rest means. Webster’s Dictionary describes it this way:

1) the quiet or repose of sleep;

2) ease or inactivity after the exertion of labor;

3) relief or freedom especially from trouble;

4) cessation or absence from motion.

Are you familiar with any of these descriptions? Vicki Griffin, PhD, makes the following comments on rest:

Sleepier Than Ever! Americans are suffering from daytime sleepiness so pervasive that it interferes with their daily activities, according to the experts at the National Sleep Foundation. According to their surveys, 40% of adults say that they are so sleepy during the day that it interferes with their daily activities.

Burning on Both Ends? Is getting to bed on time on your list of important things to do each day? “Burning the midnight oil” may be burning you out—in more ways than one!

Michael Irwin, a psychiatrist at the San Diego Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and his team studied 23 healthy men, age 22 to 61, who spent four nights in a sleep laboratory. He found that even modest levels of sleep deprivation resulted in a 30 percent drop in immune function. Returning to normal sleep patterns restored immunities. God made the beasts to go out after dark—not man! “Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth” (Psalm 104:20).

Early to Bed, Early to Rise … . Is it true that early-to-bed, early-to-rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise? Even though this saying is not in the Bible, there is a similar truth laid out by our Creator:

“The sun ariseth, (the wild beasts) gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens. Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening” (Psalm 104:22, 23).

Science confirms this simple truth about man’s proper bedtime being soon after sunset.

Dr. Thomas Weir, head of the clinical psychobiology branch of the National Institute of Mental Health, is conducting some interesting studies to see if people who follow the “early-to-bed, early-to-rise” maxim are actually gaining health benefits. So far, his studies have shown that sleeping in a “dusk-to-dawn” pattern, as opposed to late bedtime and late rising, actually causes an increase in the brain’s production of melatonin. Melatonin insufficiency may be involved in such disorders as chronic fatigue, insomnia and jet lag, lethargy and fatigue in night workers, depression, and even suicide.

Research suggests that the majority of memory storage takes place in the brain when sleep is deep and uninterrupted. In a study published in Science, researchers reported that deep sleep is critically important to the learning process, and that people tend to absorb knowledge about new skills while sleeping.

In the words of the researchers, “We and others have found that an improvement in perceptual performance occurs neither during or immediately after practice of a procedure, but rather eight to 10 hours after a training session has ended.”

Sleep Time – Valued Time! Many people not only go to bed late, they also get up early, catching naps in order to “keep going.” But according to some researchers, fragmented sleep may be worse than a bout of no sleep at all, in terms of the affect on motor skills, mood, and cognitive ability.

Remember the Fabulous Four? Don’t cheat yourself out of sleep. There are four essentials to establishing good sleep habits.

Quantity. The average person needs eight to nine hours of sleep daily. This is essential for proper immune function, tissue repair, and nervous system and hormone balance. Children and teenagers need more.

Regularity. Having a set bedtime and rising, as well as set times for eating, exercise, study and work, help your body to establish regular biorhythms, which reduces cancer risk and normalizes hormone metabolism.

Timing. As mentioned before, an early-to-bed pattern of sleeping enhances learning, mood, overall health, and childhood development.

Quality. Ever sleep a long time and wake up tired? There are a number of factors that can interfere with quality sleep. Eating late, sugary foods, lack of regular exercise, smoking, and the use of caffeinated beverages or drugs can seriously impair the quality of sleep. Certain prescription drugs, including sleeping pills and anti-depressants, can cause sleep problems.

Stress, television, harsh music and bright lights at night can also reset the body’s inner clock to late-night wakefulness and diminish quality sleep. Anger and guilt can destroy peaceful sleep.

Someone once said, “A clear conscience makes a soft pillow.” Hanging onto grudges and anger robs us of inner peace that is essential to sound sleep. Perhaps that is why the Bible tells us not to let the sun go down on our wrath, but as far as possible “be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thessalonians 5:13).

Sleep: It Should Be a Top Priority! Your Creator and Savior understands your need to sleep, and He will help you plan it into your lifestyle. Indeed, we now know from science that if you do not make proper sleep a top priority, you will pay a price!

In this troubled and perplexing world, our Savior is interested in our sleep habits: “It is vain for you to … sit up late, … He giveth His beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2).

It was Jesus who, pressed with cares and an urgent mission, told His weary disciples, “Come ye yourselves apart … and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31). …

Extracted from The Guilt-free Gourmet, by Vicki B. Griffin, PhD, MACN and Gina M. Griffin, pages 317–321. (Remnant Publications, 1999).

Rest is really a gift from God. Don’t lose out! Enjoy!