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Rest and sleep are two different things, and for many people, the difference is hard to define.

While both rest and sleep are said to be necessary for regeneration of body, mind, and spirit, Dr. Matthew Edlund (aka the Rest Doctor) considers sleep to be a form of passive rest, while active rest allows you to “consciously and thoughtfully rest in ways that will improve your health, your mood, your social connectedness, your vitality, and your creativity.”

Dr. Edlund suggests if you can’t sleep, rest can be just as curative as sleep. He also defines four kinds of active rest in his book, The Power of Rest: Why Sleep Alone Is Not Enough. A 30-Day Plan to Reset Your Body.

  • Mental rest means focusing intelligently on your environment in a way that’s rejuvenating.
  • Social rest means using the power of social connectedness to relax and rejuvenate.
  • Spiritual rest is the practice of connecting with things larger and greater than ourselves, which provides fellowship and meaning in life.
  • Physical rest which focuses your body and its simplest physiological processes to promote calmness, relaxation, mental alertness, and surprisingly better health.

The rest doctor is not the only one interested in how we rest. A few years ago, in 2015, the BBC conducted The Rest Test, with more than 18,000 people from 134 countries attempting the survey, making it the world’s largest-ever survey on rest. Some of the top things respondents do to get rest include:

  • Walking
  • Taking a bath or a shower
  • Daydreaming
  • Watching TV
  • Meditating or practicing mindfulness
  • Gardening
  • Travelling on long train journeys
  • Engaging in physical activity
  • Sexual activity
  • Running
  • Grooming
  • Thinking about the past

It seems that not getting enough rest is a universal problem, whether the desire is to curl up with a tear-jerker from Oprah’s book club or spend more time doing absolutely nothing all by yourself, taking a mental break does not seem to be so selfish after all. It’s scientific, and even a requirement for health and well-being.

About the author 

Aamirah

I help individuals overcome stumbling blocks preventing them from living their best life.

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