The concept of the 7 Types of Rest was introduced by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith. Dr. Dalton-Smith is a medical doctor, author, and speaker who specializes in helping individuals optimize their health and well-being. In her book "Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity," she identifies seven different types of rest that are essential for overall well-being. Being #RestEnthusiasts ourselves, we asked our resident Sleep Expert, Alanna McGinn, what practices we could incorporate into our daily lives to cover these seven rest categories.
Levels of burnout are at an all-time high and for those who are feeling chronically tired getting a good night of sleep is important. Our goal when we wake in the morning is to feel rested. That’s important. It’s also important to understand that the act of resting is not necessarily to nap or sleep. We need to allow more than just our body a reprieve, it must extend to our mind as well. There are different types of rest and when we don’t achieve these we could be dealing with a society that is suffering from a rest deficit - producing chronically tired and chronically burned-out individuals.
It makes sense that our bodies need physical rest. Passive physical rest is where we may curl up with a cozy blanket for a snooze or a nap. Active physical rest is more low intensity movement like yoga, stretching, walking, and massages.
When we don’t allow ourselves time to mentally slow down we can accumulate a mental rest deficit. We can become irritable and forgetful. You may notice that you have difficulty concentrating on tasks or work. It can also promote a busier brain once we head to bed, which can affect our sleep poorly.
Allow yourself time throughout the day to have a Personal Pause. Set aside a few times a day for five minutes or so to find a quiet place to collect your thoughts. Write down your to-do list or work through any stressors. Giving yourself time during the day to work everything out instead of when you want to go to sleep.
We are always connected to something. We are a society of 24/7 bright lights, computer screens, background noise, and Zoom calls. Our senses can become overwhelmed. Setting a tech curfew an hour before we go to bed can allow us to set boundaries and create a low stimulation environment before going to sleep at night.
We need to focus on our surroundings when we are stuck problem solving or brainstorming new ideas. Instead of turning to TV or social media, aim for a more creative outlet, like gardening, journaling, or drawing. Get lost in a book and dive into the story. In order to release innovative ideas and feelings of passion you need to surround yourself with stimulation, like art, music, or hobbies.
This is where you have to learn to say "no" when we might feel pressured to say "yes". We can obtain emotional rest when we learn to express our feelings, being truthful to how we feel, and set healthy boundaries. You don’t have to please everyone and if you’re not okay, it’s okay to share some vulnerability with the people you trust.
There are times in our lives where it’s important to audit our social surroundings, both in person and online. Surround yourself with people who positively support you. Purge or unfollow those that are toxic and exhausting. Take time to evaluate the relationships around you, and this can even go as far as who you engage with on social media. Sometimes we need to reevaluate our social feeds and perhaps unfollow those that don’t give us the joy we need throughout the day.
When we put focus on where we belong, what we love, and our purpose we allow for some spiritual rest. This could be in the form of prayer, meditation (and there are some great meditation apps that can help guide you), or participating more in your community and volunteering, which can add more fulfilment to your day.
Alanna McGinn is ceo, founder and Certified Sleep Expert of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. Host of the ‘This Girl Loves Sleep’ Podcast and Sleep Expert on Cityline, Alanna has established her brand as a leading sleep resource for families. You can find out more about Alanna McGinn and how to work with a Good Night Sleep Consultant at goodnightsleepsite.com and follow Alanna and all her sleep tips on Instagram and TikTok.