Being Mindful about Sleep and Rest

Sleep is when our soul actually refreshes our body.

-Deepak Chopra


A happy and smiling child made an entry to a family get together in his mother’s arms. Soon he became the centre of attraction. Every one present wanted to see him and play with him. He was also enjoying all the attention with giggles and cute smile that never left his face. After some time the smiling baby became grouchy and started showing tantrums. The smile turned into cries. The mother announced he wants to sleep. How easily this little baby could show he was tired and his body needs rest.

 I realized how tired I was after a long day at office and had to drive back home after this get together, but could not show my tiredness with the ease that the child did. We grownups have learnt how to regulate our behaviour and have become better at hiding our tiredness. Even we can feel grouchy but can still function.

Like that little child even our mood changes when we get tired. We are able to hold back our tantrums and cries. We might show our discomfort in other ways. For example, getting easily irritated, increased number of arguments with our children, partner or colleagues when one of us is exhausted, or lowered capacity for compassion. Sometimes we just become oblivious to our need to rest. We have mastered the art of hiding our tiredness that at times even we can’t tell when we need rest.

Why to be mindful about rest?

As said earlier, most of us work on autopilot mode; performing our duties and doing chores without noticing what is actually happening around us and what is going on within. We can end up exhausted without noticing how we got there. Our body might be tired and in need of rest but the mind will racing, thinking and worrying about tasks to be done.

We can easily strain ourselves when we are not mindful. We might end up consuming numerous cups of coffee to keep us awake, until we crash. At times we put too much pressure on ourselves to work for long hours and not giving ourselves the time to relax. We give up on sleep to get more work done. And when we eventually go to bed we cannot switch off. We might achieve something by pushing ourselves so much but we lose on our peace of mind and sense of joy. Life might seem to be in grayscale mode when we are tired. Therefore, relax, slow down, pay attention and we can start to notice the colours of life again.

We are more in tune with ourselves when we are mindful. Thus, we can listen to the subtle signals from our mind and body when it is time to rest. Meditate, set up reminders throughout the day to check within ourselves. Make time to listen to the body and mind.

Like food and water, rest is also our basic and essential need. Doing nothing for some time is equally important. We set aside time to exercise. It is important to deliberately set aside some time for rest both physically and mentally. Make rest and sleep a priority.

How to be mindful about sleep and rest?

‘Sleeping like a log can be productive for our jobs.’ Yes, you heard me right, it is true.  If we are not resting enough as needed by our body and mind, our productivity will suffer. With adequate rest all the factors for our performance will be at peak.

Resting (sleeping) too little can have harmful effects such as, irritability, and lack of apathy due to lack of energy, poor judgment, mental fogging, increased anxiety and also reduced reflexes.

Resting well on the other hand, increases our energy, improves our attitude and increases our ability to concentrate and react, both physically and mentally.

Some of us need more than six hours of sleep a day to feel refreshed, while for some only four hours are sufficient. It is not the quantity of sleep that is important, it the quality of sleep that counts. Each body has its own way of functioning. We must be mindful about our body to listen to its needs and find out what works best to put our energy bar to max.

Here are some ideas to be mindful about rest:

  • Take short breaks at work. Disconnect from work for some time. We will have clearer mind and more energy when we get back.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular exercise induces the state of relaxation. Make any form of exercise a part of daily routine.
  • Develop a mindful bed time routine. Switch off the mobile phone at least an hour before going to bed, this will help to switch off from work and life stresses.
  • Try to have regular schedules even on weekends. This will help us to make more of the time available for rest.

“Take time to rest,

your body and soul needs it.”