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7 Helpful Ways to Ensure Restorative Sleep

In the midst of a global pandemic, it is more important than ever to ensure we’re meeting our basic needs as humans. I break up these needs as food, shelter, sleep and movement. We all know sleep is important but it’s frequently something that eludes us, no matter how hard we try to get those 9 hours. With sleep being so difficult to come by prior to coronavirus, it has become even more difficult for many with the additional stress and anxiety this time period holds. Sleep has been shown to impact stress, weight gain, creativity, and ability to solve problems. Sleep is when our minds process our daily experiences and allows us to wake up and begin a new day. Unfortunately, those who are not sleeping or wake up tired and groggy are not receiving the benefits of sleep. To make things even more difficult, it’s not just about the hours of sleep but the quality of sleep as well. Below I highlight the specific types of rest we can obtain from sleep as a way to understand where each of our rest deficits may lie.

What Are the Ways I Can Improve My Sleep?  

Physical Rest

Physical rest can be obtained both passively and actively. The baseline amount of sleep we need for our bodies to feel refreshed is passive physical rest. By the way, our baseline needs are different for each of us and varies depending on what’s happening in our lives. Taking the time to reflect on how you feel after 8 hours of sleep versus 6 hours can help determine what the optimal hours of sleep are for you. Active physical rest refers to restorative activities such as yoga, stretching and walking.

Mental Rest 

Our society has normalized and glorified multitasking. At any given time, we’re engaging in multiple activities or thought processes, jumping from one task to another. This can be incredibly mentally draining especially when it’s our baseline way of functioning. Taking a break in between tasks to focus on your breathing, reading a book or doing a short mindfulness activity are all ways to rest your mind. Consciously choosing to focus on one task at a time and closing out the extra tabs on your computer is a great way to lessen the need for consistent mental rest. 

Sensory Rest

From where I’m sitting right now, I have access to a computer, phone and television. Each of these devices allows me to consume an immense amount of sensory input which can lead to sensory overload. Turning off notification on our devices, eliminating excess noise and turning the television off when it’s not being used are important ways of decreasing our sensory input. 

Creative Rest 

Creative rest doesn’t strictly apply to individuals in careers of the arts. It applies to anyone that solves problems and finds solutions. To achieve creative rest, we allow ourselves to be inspired and in awe of the world around us. This could be spending time in nature or appreciating art, music or theater. Creative rest doesn’t refer to our individual creativity but instead the creativity of the world and people around us. 

Emotional Rest

Each of us have different versions of ourselves we show in various aspects of our lives. I show up differently at work, in my relationship, with friends and with family. It’s incredibly important to have someone we can be our complete authentic selves with. Our authentic selves can be messy and emotional and having someone there to hear us as our raw selves is incredibly important. Keeping our emotions bottled up or “prettying” them for others can be detrimental to our mental health. 

Social Rest

Social rest doesn’t mean abstaining for socializing. It does, however, mean being consciously aware of the people you’re spending time with that need something form you. Whether it’s something professionally or personally, task related or emotional needs, people in our lives can be incredible draining. This isn’t speaking to anything negative about the individual themselves or the quality of your relationship but it’s to stress how important it is to surround yourself with people that do not need anything from you. These relationships are the ones that feed you, rejuvenate you, and allow you to show up for the other people in your life.

Spiritual Rest

The need for spiritual rest doesn’t strictly apply to people who consider themselves spiritual beings. The core of spiritual rest is a feeling of purpose, acceptance, and belonging to something outside of ourselves. This can be found in faith or religion but can also be found in other external places for many people. They’re frequently places that represent community and togetherness. A place that feels comfortable, like home. Places that allow you to contribute to something bigger, helping others in some way, are very healing for spiritual rest.

If you’ve found yourself struggling to sleep or obtain restorative, well-rested sleep, it may be useful to try counseling in Chicago. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!

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