The Health Benefits of Sleep

Bears got it right! Winter is a time for slowing down, spending time in a cozy den, sleeping more. We, on the other hand, tend to ramp up the activity at this time of year, getting in all of our holiday shopping, running around town, squeezing in as much as we possibly can in each 24-hour period. It’s a little counterintuitive.

As a society we have a hard time giving “rest” a place of value. Do you feel guilty if you haven’t gotten a certain amount checked off on your to-do list? Would you proudly announce to friends and coworkers that you took a nap in the middle of the afternoon–unless it was to emphasize just how much you’ve been doing lately and how little you’ve been sleeping?

In my health coaching practice I often talk to clients about the four quadrants of health: nourishment, cleansing (or detoxing), activity and rest. All four need to be in balance for us to maintain optimal health. Which is the most neglected and undervalued quadrant in your life? I’m willing to guess that it is rest. Many of us willingly and proudly sacrifice sleep, and don’t make time for a hot bath, or a few minutes of meditation. Some of us don’t even allow ourselves time on our daily train commute to just space out. We feel the constant pull to be “productive” or to “make the best use” of our time. The challenge is to change our mindset so that rest is valued as much as our active time.

Deborah Donenfeld is an HYL-certified health coach

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