Do you view rest as a necessary evil, a welcome reprieve, or something else entirely? Positive or negative, we all have our own unique relationship with rest. Looking at it from a biological perspective, though, rest is a necessary part of any successful strategy for health, immunity, and well-being. So, what makes rest just as important as exercise? And how can you maintain a good relationship with this less active, and sometimes evasive, state?
Science is pretty clear on the amount of rest your body needs in order to operate functionally. You may be surprised to learn that your body and brain need to spend 42% of their time at rest. That’s about 10 hours a day—including your recommended eight hours of sleep. While it doesn’t need to be every day and can average out over a week or a month, rest should be a major priority in life.
Improved productivity and concentration
Similar to any other muscle in the body, your brain is less able to function when it’s fatigued. The proper amount of rest will allow you to be more productive and focused the next day. When you don’t get enough rest, you may have trouble concentrating on tasks or remembering important facts or details. This can lead to mistakes or errors in judgment or decision-making.
Rest is also necessary for creativity and problem-solving. Functional brain data shows synchronized patterns of brain activation during rest, which means that you experience finding solutions to open-ended problems or inventing new ideas when you rest. Without enough rest, your brain won’t process information as well or creatively as it should—and this can impact your ability to solve problems at work or in personal relationships.
Better social and emotional intelligence
As you rest, your brain is processing things that happened during the day. Resting is just as important as exercise because it gives you time to reflect on what’s happened in your life and how it might affect future decisions. In addition to helping you make better decisions overall, rest helps improve social-emotional intelligence (SEI). SEI refers to how well people relate with others and understand their emotions; this includes empathy (the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes), self-awareness (understanding why other people act certain ways), creativity (being able to see new connections), emotional stability (having control over one’s own emotions).
Prevents depression and reduces stress
Rest is just as important as exercise and is a form of self-care. Taking time to rest allows you to recover from the stressors in your life and recharge so that you can then deal with them more effectively. According to the National Sleep Foundation, rest helps prevent depression and anxiety, which are connected to a lack of sleep and overwork.
Chronic stress tends to suppress the immune system and increase the risk for disease. During stressful situations, your body experiences heightened senses, increased heart rate, and blood pressure. When you rest, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps heal your body from stress. If you aren’t receiving the proper amount of rest, your mental health can suffer.
Heal and build your body
The human body is made to operate in a series of short sprints of energy, which is why taking frequent breaks helps productivity and physical functionality. Adequate rest is what helps your body activate and return to a state of homeostasis when your body can repair and recover. If there are areas of your body that need to heal, the brain triggers the release of hormones that encourage tissue growth and repairs blood vessels. Your body also produces more white blood cells to attack viruses and bacteria while you rest.
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Ultimately, rest is just as important as exercise and is a good way to get back to your baseline and level out the difference between where you are now and where you could easily be. It’s easy to get caught up in our daily responsibilities and lose sight of what makes us happy and healthy, so rest can remind us to slow down a little or take a break when we need it. And that’s something that we should all commit to doing more often.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This material is intended for a US audience only.