In this fast moving society, hard work and high energy expenditures are valued over simple rest and relaxation. Even more challenging is finding the amount of rest that is right to balance out the stress and workload of the day. By examining different forms of rest, it becomes easier to decide how much rest is right for each individual.
Getting Enough Nighttime Sleep
Rest comes in many forms and sleep is one of them. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average person needs between 7 to 10 hours of sleep per night. Anything less than that and the body reacts by going into a sleep deficit. While a person may become accustomed to less sleep than is required, eventually her reaction time and brain functions will slow. This can lead to many dangerous situations, especially for those employees working with machinery or other potential hazards.
Napping to Refresh
For those who cannot get enough nighttime sleep, napping is a compensation mechanism. A study out of Weill Cornell Medical College in 2011 reports that there was no difference in the benefits of a two hour nap as opposed to a 45 minute nap. However, the National Sleep Foundation explains that spending different amounts of time napping may have some negative outcomes.
While a 20-30 minute nap may improve alertness and cognition, anything longer than that may leave nappers feeling groggy and sluggish for a while after waking. The bottom line is that napping may be necessary to avoid a sleep deficit, but it may also take some time for nappers to regain full levels of activity.
Meditation and Rejuvenation
If napping is not an option to increase rest, another option may be meditation. This ancient practice of guided thought has been used for years to reduce stress and improve concentration. Meditation can take place for as long as necessary and does not place the individual into a sleep state. It's many benefits include the ability to practice anywhere and it has even been shown to improve health. The American Heart Association recommends 20-30 minutes of quiet meditation to benefit heart health and lower stress.
When to Seek Help for Lack of Rest
The amount of rest that is needed is dependent on many things. Age, activity level, health status and overall levels of stress are some of the many reasons that the necessary amount of rest can vary from person to person. If you are finding that you cannot find a balance between work and rest, consult a physician who specializes in sleep. Sleep studies can be performed which can guide physicians on the best treatment option, or referral to another health specialist.