What is without periods of rest will not endure. –Ovid
Rest is not the opposite of effort, it is the source, the nourishment, the energetic food for all that we aspire to accomplish. Most of us never really learn to savor the sweet release of rest, instead we give in grudgingly to our exhaustion, sleeping just enough to get up and start all over again, but never really surrendering to the empty, silent space that real rest takes up. I am not alone, not being one who rests. Our culture loves the rush, the frenzy of the chase; for most of us, resting is akin to laziness.
Our collective exhaustion is visible everywhere, although interestingly, according to a recent National Sleep Foundation study when life squeezes our time, it is our attention to our health and relationships that goes first. Work is reportedly the last thing to be sacrificed. Sadly one of the first things to go is our interest in and willingness to explore our sexuality. Being too tired for sex was the number one reason sited in a study of more than 1000 sexually active people. Not only the need for sleep, but the worry that you won’t sleep well often makes the idea of sex unappealing, which is ironic because sexual activity actually improves the ability to sleep for most people.
While resting can manifest in many forms, there is no more powerful restorative for the mind, body and soul than sleep. Even though our brain is never fully turned off, sleeping is the rest time for the brain, which allows it to recharge, repair neurons, archive memories and reorganize. Likewise, our heart, another organ which never stops working, also relies on sleeping periods to gain strength, maintain it’s flexibility and ease its daily workload by slowing down dramatically.