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Take A Break-Why Rest Is Different From Sleep

When day-to-day life gets too busy, getting enough rest is just as important as sleep—and we’ll tell you why. Here are five easy and inexpensive ways to do so.

By Debashruti Banerjee
25 Oct 2021

Have you ever slept for 8 hours and still woken up feeling tired? That’s probably because sleeping and resting aren’t always the same thing. Essentially, sleep is a natural state where we experience sensory detachment from our surroundings, as Daniel J Buysse mentions in his 2014 paper for the Sleep journal. Sleep is crucial for our physical and mental health—it helps our bodies maintain a good immune system. Rest, on the other hand, can be explained as a reset button for our body and mind, which allows us to relax, restore calmness and help us continue our work or even get a better night’s sleep. According to a 2011 paper published in the journal Social and Personality Psychology Compass, our biological responses can “become dysregulated with prolonged or repeated exposure to stressful circumstances”. Simply put, rest is a prerequisite for lesser stress, improved quality of life and even better sleep.

Saundra Dalton-Smith, M.D. and author of Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Renew Your Sanity, mentions that we need physical, mental, social, creative, emotional, spiritual, and sensory rest. Furthermore, rest can also be classified into active (light exercises, dancing, cleaning, walks) and passive (meditation, massages, baths)—anything that reduces and minimises activity throughout the day and helps us recover. Here are five such ways to incorporate rest in your daily schedules



Simple ways to recharge your body and mind

1. Unplug for a bit: From work and e-learning to entertainment and grocery shopping—sitting for hours in front of a computer or a phone has become a necessity for many. This can burn us out as well as overwhelm our minds with information. YoungAh Park et al have highlighted in their 2011 paper for the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology that “psychological detachment from work during non-work time is important for employee recovery and health”. Hence, make sure to build a sustainable work schedule by creating healthy boundaries between your personal space and work space, decluttering, having an achievable to-do list and making time for proper nutrition and leisure.

2. Learn meditative exercises: One of the best tools of mindfulness and concentration, meditation can allow you to pause the hustle and bustle of your daily life as well as make you feel more relaxed and focused. According to the National Institutes of Health, USA, meditative exercises may help achieve physiological balance and even reduce blood pressure, bowel issues, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Apart from meditation and yoga, you can also try breathing exercises. These are known to “improve cognitive performance and reduce negative subjective and physiological consequences of stress,” concludes a 2017 study published in the Frontiers journal.



3. Follow a self-care routine: “Engaging in self-care is a process involving being aware of self, acquiring knowledge and taking responsibility for meeting needs at whatever level they are presented,” says a 2010 review published in the JBI Library of Systematic Reviews. Your self-care ritual can look like getting a massage, creating artwork or even taking a long, warm bath—these can reduce fatigue, stress, pain, as well as increase in metabolism and blood flow, according to a 2018 study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.


4. Keep a stress toy: Remember when a few summers back, fidget spinners and squishy toys went viral? A 2006 study on school children, published in The Journal of At-Risk Issues, concluded that these toys are an effective tool for improved attention, productivity and peer interaction. Even as adults, feel free to invest in a foam ball to release some of your pent up tension and get some sensory rest. Nowadays, you can buy a large variety of such toys, including clickers, popping boards, slime and more.

5. Try music therapy: No matter what mood you’re in, you bet there’s a song for it. The therapeutic effects of music are long known and a recent report by Stanford University, USA, revealed that rhythmic music can have the same effects on our brain as medication. So, whether you need to soothe yourself or need a pick-me-up, just put your earbuds in. If you’re at home, you can even try an impromptu dance party—no expertise required. According to The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing, dance integrates the brain, the body and the self. “Through its cognitive direction, emotional impact, and physical energy, dance is a means to resist, reduce, and escape stress,” adds anthropologist and chapter author Judith Lynne Hanna.




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