The great King Solomon said, “that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to reap, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to rejoice, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time of peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). There is also a time to toil and a time to rest.
But why do we need to rest?
It is important to note that we can go without food for weeks, but we cannot go without sleep for more than a few days. Our bodies depend on the sleep cycle in order to rest and repair. Even during the day, the heart rests after each beat, and the lungs after each breath of air.
During the day as we think, work, and move about, the body cells are in a constant state of activity. Oxygen and glucose come together in the cells, and energy and waste are released. This waste matter is called lactic acid. This causes the pain and stiffness that we feel in our muscles after heavy exercise. When we rest, the blood circulates through these sore and tired muscles bringing in fresh supplies of oxygen and glucose. This rejuvenates our muscles and then we can return to our work.
Guidelines to improve your quality of sleep
• Have a regular sleeping schedule: Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time, including weekends. By sleeping at regular hours every night, the health, spirits, memory and the disposition are improved. Irregular hours of sleeping cause the brain forces to be sapped.
• Regular exercise: Follow a regular exercise program, preferably in the fresh air and sunshine. The body will rest better if it has been active.
• Don’t eat a heavy evening meal: Someone said, “That we should eat like a king in the morning, like a prince at noon and like a pauper in the evening”.
Heavy meals in the evening especially those containing high saturated fat and protein do not digest readily and can take up to six hours to complete its digestion process. When the body has to complete the digestion process after you go to bed, you won’t get the proper quality of rest.
• Before bedtime relax your body and mind: Take a warm bath; drink a cup of herbal tea; enjoy some quiet reading or soft music; do something pleasant and soothing. Avoid stimulants like radio, television, tobacco, and caffeine.
• Avoid upsetting arguments, conversations, and confrontations in the evening: Before bedtimes set your worries and anxieties aside. Ask forgiveness and make restitution to those you may have hurt – obtain a clear conscience.
• Refrain from alcohol usage: This interferes with the body’s ability to rebuild itself while you are sleeping. Check your medications for side effects that interfere with sleep.
• Have an abundant supply of fresh air during sleep: Sore throats, lung diseases and liver disorders occur when there is not a continuous supply of fresh air during sleep. Also one awakens feeling exhausted and feverish from lack of oxygen. But, a cool, dark, comfortable, tidy, and quiet sleeping area with an abundant supply of fresh air will soothe the body and encourage sound, sweet rest.
• Avoid eating at least four hours before going to bed: The stomach should have its work all done that it may rest as well as the other organs while sleeping. When the stomach is not empty before sleep the digestive process continues during the sleeping hours and this result in unpleasant dreams.
Since the stomach has worked while you were sleeping you awake unrefreshed in the morning and with little desire for a hearty breakfast.
• Early to bed and early to rise: The greatest amount of restoration is done to the body during deep sleep. Studies show that, due to the “circadian rhythm”, which is regulated by the sun’s rays, the deepest and most efficient sleep occurs between the hours of 9:00 P.M. and 12:00 midnight.
• Give thanks always: As you go to sleep, take time to be thankful for the blessings in your life.
Rest is important and necessary not only physically but also mentally, socially and spiritually. We need to relax and regenerate ourselves in all dimensions of life.
Mentally: The mind needs to rest after periods of intense mental activity in order to recuperate. In addition, a good night’s sleep gives the mind a chance to reorganize and start afresh.
Socially: A time away in privacy and solitude is essential after periods of heavy social interaction. Vacation with the family occasionally is also necessary and healthy.
Spiritually: After intense periods of ministry Christ’s servants saw the need to “Come apart and rest a while” by spending quality time with Him from the “hustle and bustle” of life. Time with Christ is spiritual rejuvenation. (See Mark 6:30, 31).
Please note that our body requires more than just a daily period of rest. At creation God provided for a weekly rest, the Sabbath. (Genesis 2:1-3).
This provides an entire day without work, when the week’s cares are set aside for quality time with God and our families. This is indispensable for health – it’s like an oasis in the midst of our busy lives. If we work continuously, we impose a strain upon our health and set ourselves up for disease.