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If you’re feeling tired even after sleep, ask yourself: are you getting the right kind of rest?

Rest - Photo by Eugene Chystiakov on Unsplash

Culturally, we talk a lot about stress, tiredness and the need for more sleep. We also conflate sleep with rest and think of it as the same thing. However, if you’ve ever had an experience where despite getting the recommended eight hours you still feel tired, then it’s possible that you’re not actually getting the rest you need.

Rest is a complicated thing and lots of elements play into it. In fact, sleep itself has a lot of things that contribute to its quality and effectiveness. However, rest and sleep are not the same thing.

Seven different types of rest

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith has done an inspiring Tedx Talk discussing this topic. She explains how there are seven different types of rest that we all need in varying different degrees. That includes:

  • Physical rest (sleep, stretching, yoga, massage)
  • Mental rest (short breaks and ‘downloading’ that mental to do list onto a notepad)
  • Sensory rest (time away from stimulus like computer screens)
  • Creative rest (things that make us feel inspired, like time in nature or at an art gallery)
  • Emotional rest (cutting back on people pleasing)
  • Social rest (feeling engaged, valued and restored by the people around us)
  • Spiritual rest (feeling a sense of belonging, acceptance and purpose)

It’s an interesting thought that will likely resonate with lots of us, but may also be a reassuring answer to that ongoing question: ‘why am I so tired?’

There is a huge and increasing amount of research into stress and sleep, as well as a collective realisation that there’s something of a national crisis going on when it comes to burnout. That’s not just because of the pandemic, but in many ways it has been exacerbated and made much more evident by the strains of the last year.

In 2017, Dr Oz, surgeon and TV doctor, told the Global Wellness Institute that sleep is the “single biggest under appreciated health problem.” Gwyneth Paltrow has weighed in on the subject with her Clean Sleep philosophy, and sleep specialist Tej Semani previously highlighting to us the contribution that diet, temperature, exercise and routine, all have on our sleep quality alone.

How we can help get the rest we need

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s insights are interesting and reassuring, providing tangible solutions that we can begin to build into our lives if we feel tired, even as we work from home. Suggestions include:

  • Prayer or meditation for spiritual rest
  • Choosing to interact (even virtually) with people who make you feel good instead of drained, and really focusing on them during the conversation, for emotional rest
  • Turn your workspace into a place of inspiration with images of art and nature for creative rest
  • Close your eyes for a few minutes in the middle of the day and intentionally unplug electronics at the end of the day for sensory rest
  • Schedule short breaks in your work day for mental rest
  • Stretch, do yoga or have a massage for physical rest

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