Rest vs. Sleep: Know the Difference for Whole Health

A woman gets some rest with her puppy.
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Finding that delicate balance of living a fulfilled life, yet prioritizing time to rest, is an important part of our whole-person care. And discovering opportunities for both mental and physical rest might not be as challenging as you think.

For most, feeling tired or worn down might lead you to think you need more sleep. While sleep is critical to feeling whole, rest can be so much more than your nightly hours of shut-eye.

“Rest involves your whole being, not just your body,” according to the book CREATION Health by AdventHealth Publishing. It continues, “With complete and regular rest, you will restore your health, enhance your performance and achieve an amazing sense of well-being.” And even small — but impactful — bouts of rest can be incorporated into your everyday routine in many ways.

Here are some tips to add more rest into your purpose-driven life.

1. Take a Silent Gratitude Minute

Living in the moment is easier said than done. But in doing so, it helps calm your body and mind, allowing it to take a brief break from the daily stressors all around you.

In the book CREATION Health, Life Guide #2 - Rest at its Best, the author suggests taking a mental inventory of your thoughts, or self-talk. Are they about the future or your current moment? If they are about the future and you're feeling tense, take a mental break. Think about the moment, connect with your present feelings, see what's around you in nature and ground yourself by thinking about what you are grateful for today. This practice can zap physical and emotional stress, putting your body and mind at ease.

2. Take a Time Out

Removing yourself from a stressful situation or anxious environment might be all you need to take a mental and physical break. Think of it as your own little “time out” to connect with your thoughts, emotions and body. Even a short, calming pause or prayer can help you rejuvenate in body, mind and spirit.

You can also use this time to do some deep breathing exercises, a mindful meditation or practice progressive muscle relaxation.

3. Take a Nap

In many cultures, "biphasic sleep” — which includes two separate periods of sleep every 24 hours, with one in the afternoon and one at night — is the norm. While napping might not be realistic for you every day, there's a body of scientific evidence suggesting you might want to sneak a daytime rest when you can.

CREATION Health, Life Guide #2 - Rest at its Best reviews a long list of studies showing that napping can:

  • Boost memory
  • Enhance productivity and concentration
  • Increase alertness
  • Improve mood
  • Stimulate creativity and problem-solving
  • Decrease risk of heart disease
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Decrease stress

4. Avoid Caffeine

If you're feeling overly anxious, stressed or jittery, caffeine can put further physical and mental stress on your body. If you're feeling worn down or tired, look to the strategies above to rest your body. Or, get an energy boost the healthy way by drinking a nutrition-packed smoothie or some extra water. You might be surprised that this alone may improve your mental alertness and energy levels.

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