From the moment my first daughter was born I have been a stickler about bedtimes, nap times and the importance of rest in my little ones’ lives. After reading that rest was important for the development of their little brains and bodies that was all it took. I became the sleep police.
Most of us have been through that phase, weighing our attendance at events on sleep patterns and willing (with Jedi like strength) the dog not to bark as the delivery man appears at your door. We evaluate room temperature and blackout shades, hunt down blankies and participate in a gazillion bedtime routines just to ensure our children get the rest they need.
And yet during those early weeks and months when everyone tells us to “rest while the baby sleeps” we rarely do. Instead, using the time to wash bottles, do a load of laundry or one of any other household chore that stacks up after pregnancy.Why, in the early days of motherhood, do we create the habit of forgoing what we so desperately need? Momma, you need to rest too. Click To Tweet
Why is Rest so Important?
There are countless studies on the importance of rest to the human body. But babies, growing children and grumpy teens aren’t the only ones in need of rest. Moms need rest too. (Pregnancy isn’t the only time your body needs rest.)
In February 2017, Shape magazine ran a story titled “Do Women Need More Sleep Than Men?” I didn’t find the story surprising (as it concluded there was no concrete evidence that women needed more sleep than men) but it did share some startling and important facts as to why as women we need to make sure we are getting enough rest.
“Poor sleep certainly had a more profound effect on women than on men,” says Edward Suarez, Ph.D., an associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine and lead researcher of a study that looked at the relationship between poor sleep and poor health. He found that for women, reduced sleep was associated with a significant increase in risk of heart disease and diabetes, as well as more stress, depression, anxiety, and anger. However, these associations were weaker or nonexistent for men.
Charlotte, Hilton Andersen, Shape magazine
I don’t know about you, but I have found that many times doing something for my own sake isn’t as strong a motivator as is doing something for the sake of my girls. And so, from that perspective, if we want to be around for our children years from now, one of the easiest things we can is to make sure we are getting enough rest.
Some of the health benefits of sleep include:
- Getting sick less often
- Staying at a healthy weight
- Lowering your risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease
- Reducing stress and improve your mood
- Thinking more clearly and do better in school and at work
- Getting along better with people
- Making good decisions and avoid injuries – for example, sleepy drivers cause thousands of car accidents every year
Most adults, including Moms, should get 7-8 hours of good quality sleep a night. Keep in mind, it’s not just about the hours, but also a regular scheduled of good quality sleep so that you feel rested when you wakeup.The need or decision to rest is not a sign of weakness. Click To Tweet
Is Rest Biblical?
Rest isn’t just important to our physical and mental well being. Rest matters to our spiritual well being. Rest allows us to be renewed mentally, physically and spiritually. In fact, the Bible offers repeated reminders of the importance of physical rest. The very first reference to rest can be found in the very first book of the Bible. God uses the creation story to draw attention to it.
3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:3 (NIV)
God worked for six days creating the earth and all that was on it. Then, He rested from all the work He had done.
In the New Testament, Jesus recognizes a similar need. After a busy time of work Jesus leads his disciples away so that they might find rest.
31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 (NIV)
Momma, can you see your need for rest? Let’s agree to stop fighting our tired body and mind, and give our weary soul a much needed break.
4 Tips for Getting the Rest You Need
Here are a few quick and easy steps to help you get the rest you need.
- Nap Time. It’s not just for the kids. Purpose to take one nap over the weekend – Sunday afternoons are a great time to try this out!
- Set a bedtime for yourself and stick to it. Set an alarm on your phone 30 minutes before bedtime and start wrapping things up. There are few things that can’t wait till tomorrow.
- Buy some new jammies. Nothing screams bedtime like a pair of comfy jammies.
- Do not disturb. Once a sign for hotel rooms – now a feature on your phone. Take advantage of this bit of technology and stop receiving alerts on your phone (including text messages) 30 minutes before bedtime. Believe me, this tip will keep you from the electronic abyss.
When I don’t get the rest I need everything suffers. And, if this happens for extended periods of time the wheels start to fall of the bus. Know what I mean? This year I am purposing to be more deliberate about getting the rest I need. What about you?