How to Get Enough Rest

The willingness to rest is key to good health. And chances are you're not getting enough. Here's how -- from every hour to every year.

Since Biblical times it's been said that there's no rest for the wicked. Well, it's not like the virtuous are getting much either. Most of us are juggling what seems to be a million different tasks as we try to be Susie Homemaker, a perfect mother, and a career goddess.

Yet rest is as important as exercise to a healthy life. Without it, our stress levels skyrocket, leading to accelerated heart and breathing rates and increased blood pressure, says Jonathan C. Smith, PhD, director of the Roosevelt University Stress Institute in Chicago. "Without rest, we're constantly charging up the body for an emergency," he says. "It would be like running your motorcycle or vacuum cleaner at high speed for 24 hours a day. Eventually, it's going to wear out."

Let this point be clear: Rest is not laziness. Rest is building breaks into our lives before we collapse so we don't collapse. So, then, why is it so hard to put our feet up? "We're raised with the idea that we're supposed to be serving all the time," says Lynne M. Baab, author of Sabbath Keeping: Finding Freedom in the Rhythms of Rest. "Many women put the needs of other people before themselves. But we have to stop and avoid burnout." You can't serve others if you're a wreck yourself.

Continued on page 2:  Tips to Sleep Better