I’ve been adjusting my schedule from retired and sleeping late mode to working and getting up early. Saturday is the opportunity to catch up on a little extra sleep, and I was pondering the importance of the right amount of rest. I hardly ever take naps, but I had a good one today.
Not getting enough rest and sleep can lead to more stress and anxiety, two of the enemies of rest. Another enemy of rest is getting caught up in the unimportant, getting caught up in the urgency of things that don’t really matter. Or the unimportant can be as simple as watching one more TV show, reading one more chapter, or playing one more video game. In contrast, sometimes it can seem to us that sleep is a waste of time, when there are so many productive things we could be doing. But when the urgency of the unimportant takes away from our rest time, it is counterproductive.
Of course some would argue it’s a chicken and egg sort of thing, because stress and anxiety can lead to loss of sleep, just as not getting enough sleep can lead to more stress and anxiety. I have found that I can have a positive anxiety that keeps me from sleeping as well. That is, I can be thinking about a good situation or what I want to say in a good upcoming circumstance, and it inhibits my ability to go to sleep just as the negative anxiety does.
On the other hand, I can think of two dangers associated with plenty, perhaps too much, rest and sleep. One is procrastination. I have shared how a Spanish coworker told me my first week in Spain that mañana did not mean tomorrow, it meant “not today.” It could be tomorrow, or the next day, or never, but it was not today. I recently found another Spanish proverb (that I had never heard in many years in Spain): “Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.” It carries the same meaning – we tend to procrastinate and put many things off till “tomorrow.” I don’t get anything done if I am sleeping, and I even manage to avoid thinking about those tasks at the same time.
The second danger is depression. When we are depressed, often we tend to stay in bed and sleep much more than normal. Excessive procrastination can lead to depression. But even this is a chicken and egg sort of thing: Sleeping too much can lead to depression, but if someone becomes depressed they can often spend too much time sleeping. If you are sleeping much more than normal or find it difficult to get out of bed, it is worth checking on the possibility of depression.
I have found that setting and keeping to a fixed schedule helps, as does trying to clear my mind before bed. If I obsess over either good or bad thoughts at bedtime, I have a hard time getting to sleep. It helps to reflect on the relative unimportance of much of what I ruminate on. How about you – are you keeping the enemies of good rest at bay?
thanks to http://medicaltechnologyavenue.blogspot.com/2012/09/sleepbenefits.html for the image.