Howdy all! A heart-filled Hump Day to each of you! What a month it has been! Between working from home several days a week, working around 65-70 hours a week keeping up with disaster planning for 17 counties/10,000 square miles, also serving as I.T. Director for said counties, serving alongside friends at the Alzheimer’s Association as a volunteer, blogging with you, Facetiming with mom, and the rest, my brain needs some rest.
Today I want to discuss with you a topic near and dear to me. It is like a very good friend to me. I could safely say that it is a passion of mine. It is also, alas, as fleeting as a winning Lotto ticket, especially for someone like me who doesn’t play lottery. My topic today…wait for it…is Re…Zzzzzzzzz. Oh, I am so sorry. The topic is REST. Today, as an attempt at a learning aid, I am going to give you a little acrostic using the letters R.E.S.T. in hopes that you will see the value of self-care in the form of rest. I also hope some of the many links I am including here will entice you to study the topic.
Off we go!
R. The R of our little acronym is for recovery and restoration. This one is an easy one. The brain, according to the Harvard Medical School, and every other piece of good information on the topic, uses sleep as a time to recover and restore. The Glymphatic System of the brain is the center of this activity when we sleep, but other areas play a part too. Please read this piece on this symptom, at least skimming through the challenging words. Your brain does amazing, in my opinion counter-evolutionary, things while it sleeps. In parts of your sleep, you are essentially paralyzed, others you are quite active, and in other parts of your sleep your brain is both clearing out the old junk (proteins) and solidifying memories. The previous sentence alone should make it patently obvious that the need for sleep is critical in fighting off dementia!
E. The E of this little story is eating (and drinking). Science is kind of mixed on whether it is wise to eat when you are nearing time for bed. At best, there are a few foods that may enhance your sleep, but the list that hinders sleep is much longer. Science is also mixed somewhat on whether eating right before bed causes weight gain, although the majority of nutrition experts (and common sense) say(s) you are better off eating earlier in the day nearer when you will use the calories than when you need fewer. Weight gain, and the many health problems caused by it, point back to the phrase we talk about a lot here: “What’s good for the heart is good for the brain!”. Last aspect of this is thinking through your experiences. Have you ever went to sleep at night after eating a huge meal? Did you, like me, experience very weird, sometimes unsettling dreams? It happens every time for me…so I try to eat earlier when I can.
S. The S represents sleep cycles. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but we have two main stages of sleep: “slow-wave sleep (SWS), known as deep sleep, and rapid eye movement (REM), also called dreaming sleep.” REM sleep is interesting and mysterious, but it seems like this SWS sleep is the part of our sleep cycle that plays the biggest role in fixing up our brain and keeping it from dementia. If deep sleep (SWS) accounts for about 1/4 of your sleep, and most experts recommend between 7-9 hours of sleep, you need several hours of sleep per night to receive the maximum healthful benefits of this stage. Since you get hour-ish doses of this deep sleep per cycle, you need multiple cycles to get all you need. That is where the rub happens. We all have sleep patterns that vary. Some of us can hit the pillow and enter deep sleep faster than others. This may be how we are wired, but article after article warns about things like technology addiction, caffeine consumption, room environment, and a few other things as hindering the sleep of otherwise sleep-skilled folks. Please obey the science here and avoid caffeine before bed, turn off the tech (and other room distractions like flashing lights), get in good sleep habits and take the time to get your sleep cycles in.
T. The T. of our discussion could be a lot of things, but I think many of them can be summed up with the word Trust. This is where faith comes in. Pray before you sleep for things in and out of your control. Pray for loved ones, for your nation, and as a praise for all of the things you are blessed with every single day…then trust in the Lord. Lean in to Him. If you struggle with that, read some Psalms. He is shown as our strong tower…our refuge…our protector. “Let Him” be that anew every night before you sleep. I am not perfect in this area…but do as I say, not as I necessarily do.
We will revisit this topic again soon. There is much to mine here, only some of which will be more boring than counting sheep. 🙂
Update: Nothing new on the mom front. I will talk to her Via Facetime this evening. Yesterday’s got cancelled. She was asleep and tooooo sleepy for our talk.