Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon youand learn from Me, for I amgentle andlowly in heart,and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
There are few on this planet who have not yet felt the blessings of a good night's sleep or time of rest after difficult work. But many may not know the true benefits to health. Rest provides an opportunity for the body to detox in a way it cannot do while we are awake. The liver has certain detox functions which only start after several hours of sleep, which is often the reason for sleep problems in people who keep the liver busy late at night (eating meals close to bed time, drinking alcohol in the evening, etc.). Sleep has also been proven to store information in the brain and play a vital role in mental health.
There are some ways to improve good quality sleep though. Not all sleep was created equal, if you know what I mean.
Sleep at regular times every day, when ever possible. Each hour of sleep you get before midnight is worth double an hour of sleep after midnight. Therefore, sleeping 8 hours from midnight to 8am will leave you half as rested as sleeping 8 hours from 9pm to 5am. What makes most people tired in the morning is not waking up early but going to bed late. Or doing things that prevent them from actually sleeping while they "sleep".
Eating a meal close to bed time will keep your digestive tract busy for hours while you expect your brain to switch off and rest. After your food is processed by the stomach and intestines, the liver still has to process certain components of your meal which pass through it via the blood stream. And only then can the liver start detoxing processes. If you eat more than 4 hours before going to bed, your body rests deeply from the start of your sleep, and your food won't be rotting in your gut while you rest. So, let the stomach finish all digestion before you sleep. For us, finishing our last meal at before 4pm and aiming for bed time by 9pm, works really well. A warm drink like cereal coffee with nut milk at 8pm, is a perfect, cozy end to the day.
Stimulants like caffeine and alcohol will disturb your sleep even if you don't use them near bedtime. It has been proven repeatedly that all stimulant use has a high association with sleep disturbances. Stress and living in "restless" environments will have a similar effect on a person.
A healthy diet, regular water intake, fresh air and regular exercise, and regular open-air activity all contribute to health in the daytime, which improves night-time sleep.
“The stomach, when we lie down to rest, should have its work done, that it may enjoy rest, as well as other portions of the body. The work of digestion should not be carried on through any period of the sleeping hours.” --Ellen G. White, Healthful Living, p. 84--
Remember that rest is not just night-sleep. Rest includes physical rest, sensory rest, emotional rest, and mental rest. Without rest, no amount of wholesome nutrition can heal the body. God created our bodies with a need for rest. He first mentions this in the very first two chapters of the Bible, and instated weekly rest for our physical, spiritual and mental health. This rest day in a weekly cycle not only forms a crucial part of our NEWSTART lifestyle, but is also a reminder of who sustains us. You can read more about the main reasons God blessed the 7th day in studies on the Sabbath.