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Are You Chasing Rest?

Health Gem 10/07/2021

Have you ever felt like a beast of burden that is allowed no rest? In this day it would seem that people are so busy there is not time to stop and rest, to rejuvenate, to sleep. To all appearances we always chasing rest.

But our Heavenly Shepherd, pleads with us to in Matthew 11:28 to "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And He will give us rest, true rest can not be found any other way. In this text Jesus is speaking of a Spiritual or mental rest, but He can also provide physical rest to our bodies.

Rest and more importantly sleep, is vital for us to be able to complete our daily tasks, but it is also very necessary to our immune functionality, as it becomes weaker with a deficit of sleep. Beyond that it has a big affect on our body and mind.

A study was done at Warwick University to find out the effects of sleep or lack thereof on our bodies:

The risk of developing heart disease can increase by as much as 48% if a person does not get enough sleep, University of Warwick scientists say.

A long period of sleep shortage increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to scientists.

They found most people need between six and eight hours of sleep a night to protect their health.

Professor Cappuccio and co-author Dr. Michelle Miller, from the University of Warwick, conducted the research.

They said they followed up evidence from periods of seven to 25 years from more than 470,000 participants from eight countries including Japan, the USA, Sweden and the UK.

Professor Cappuccio said: "If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep you stand a 48% greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater chance of developing or dying of a stroke.

Society very often does not take the importance of sleep seriously. Routinely people get very little sleep because they are too busy working, watching TV or engaging in social media. But according to what we just read above, if you don't get enough sleep you are increasing your risks of heart disease by almost 50%!! That is life and death serious!

So let's take a look at sleep and break it down. There are stages of sleep and each has a very important function. If we do not reach or experience all of these stages, we may not be as rested as we need to be.

Sleep Stages

There are two basic types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep (which has three different stages). Each is linked to specific brain waves and neuronal activity. You cycle through all stages of non-REM and REM sleep several times during a typical night, with increasingly longer, deeper REM periods occurring toward morning.

Stage 1 non-REM sleep is the changeover from wakefulness to sleep. During this short period (lasting several minutes) of relatively light sleep, your heartbeat, breathing, and eye movements slow, and your muscles relax with occasional twitches. Your brain waves begin to slow from their daytime wakefulness patterns.

Stage 2 non-REM sleep is a period of light sleep before you enter deeper sleep. Your heartbeat and breathing slow, and muscles relax even further. Your body temperature drops and eye movements stop. Brain wave activity slows but is marked by brief bursts of electrical activity. You spend more of your repeated sleep cycles in stage 2 sleep than in other sleep stages.

Stage 3 non-REM sleep is the period of deep sleep that you need to feel refreshed in the morning. It occurs in longer periods during the first half of the night. Your heartbeat and breathing slow to their lowest levels during sleep. Your muscles are relaxed and it may be difficult to awaken you. Brain waves become even slower.

REM sleep first occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep. Your eyes move rapidly from side to side behind closed eyelids. Mixed frequency brain wave activity becomes closer to that seen in wakefulness. Your breathing becomes faster and irregular, and your heart rate and blood pressure increase to near waking levels. Most of your dreaming occurs during REM sleep, although some can also occur in non-REM sleep. Your arm and leg muscles become temporarily paralyzed, which prevents you from acting out your dreams. As you age, you sleep less of your time in REM sleep. Memory consolidation most likely requires both non-REM and REM sleep.

Ok, so how much sleep do we need to be fully rested? Well this varies by age. The following chart was published by the CDC and shows their recommendations:

Warwick University said a minimum of 6 hours so anything less than 6-7 hours of sleep increases our chances of heart disease by 48%! We should take this to "heart" and make bedtime a priority.

At what hour then would be the best time to go to bed? Dr. Matthew Walker wrote an article and had this information to share:

"Every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after midnight. Your grandparents (and great grandparents) probably adhered to that creaky adage. “The mythology is unfortunate, because there’s no pumpkin-like magic that occurs,” says Dr. Matt Walker, head of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. And while nothing special happens to you or the quality of your sleep at the stroke of midnight, many do wonder: What’s the best time to go to bed?

Walker says your sleep quality does change as the night wears on.

“The time of night when you sleep makes a significant difference in terms of the structure and quality of your sleep,” he explains. Your slumber is composed of a series of 90-minute cycles during which your brain moves from deep, non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep to REM sleep. “That 90-minute cycle is fairly stable throughout the night,” Walker explains. “But the ratio of non-REM to REM sleep changes.”

He says that non-REM sleep tends to dominate your slumber cycles in the early part of the night. But as the clock creeps toward daybreak, REM sleep muscles in. That’s significant, because some research has suggested that non-REM sleep is deeper and more restorative than lighter, dream-infused REM sleep—though Walker says both offer important benefits.

What does this have to do with the perfect bedtime? The shift from non-REM to REM sleep happens at certain times of the night regardless of when you go to bed, Walker says. So if you hit the sack very late—at, say, 3 AM—your sleep will tilt toward lighter, REM-heavy sleep. And that reduction in deep, restorative sleep may leave you groggy and blunt-minded the next day.

Therefore in order to have more restful sleep it would seem sensible that we should go to bed before midnight so that we can go through all of our sleep cycles and be fully rested by the time we need to get up. This means that our retiring hour should be calculated to afford enough time to receive the full nights sleep. To make it very simple has a sleep calculator you can use here .

It would seem then that we should really make more of an effort to get to bed on time and get up on time. This is called bedtime hygiene, having set times to retire and rise. If you miss by half an hour that won't do much harm but more than an hour difference from your regular schedule and you can begin to upset your rhythms. Psalm 127:2 says "It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep." This means it is worthless to get up early if you are going to stay up late, for God gives or bestows sleep as a gift. A wonderful Christian author gave this advice about when to retire:

Make it habit not to sit up after nine o'clock. Every light should be extinguished. This turning night into day is a wretched, health-destroying habit, and this reading much by brain workers, up to the sleeping hours, is very injurious to health. It calls the blood to the brain and then there is restlessness and wakefulness, and the precious sleep, which should rest the body, does not come when desired. DG 177.1

Rest does not only mean sleep as you can see in the Merriam-Webster definition of rest:

Do you see number 4? Peace of mind or spirit, what a wonderful thought. This means we need to take time out for some re-creation!

We need to get out in the sun, fresh air and in nature, God's second book. It is utterly amazing how much tension, just walking outside, can release from tight shoulders. It rejuvenates and revives us go be able to work more.

Thankfully God, in His omniscient wisdom, created the Sabbath for us that we may have one day a week that we can drop everything worldly, go to church and concentrate only on Him. What a blessing this is as it provides physical and spiritual rest in Him. He will provide us with peace as He promises in John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

Finally we can have rest by spending time in His word, the Bible, and in prayer. In the Bible we discover the peace He promises. Bible study is spiritual food. Reading the promises in His word will give repose to our souls. Then falling on our knees in prayer we may unburden ourselves by "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." 1 Peter 5:7.

**These are beneficial health suggestions. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This is not a substitute for speaking with your health professional.

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