4 Surprising Benefits of Rest

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Do you crave time away from your regularly scheduled life? You're not alone. Put your feet up and discover some of the benefits of rest. 

When the battery runs low on your phone or tablet, you plug it in to recharge. Sadly, many of us don’t realize we can do the same for ourselves with a little rest. 

Research reveals some surprising health benefits to taking a little R&R, and it points out why we need it.

In a fast-paced world that boasts a 24-hour news cycle and offers "connection" through social media at any time, most people feel like they are just trying to keep up.  

About 67 percent of users admit that they check their devices even even when there is no alert, and 44 percent sleep next to their phones, according to research. 

To keep up this pace, we use stimulants like coffee to help us get going, alcohol to help us wind down, and energy drinks to rev ourselves back up. Quick fixes to help us keep up are offered everywhere we turn.

But it hasn't made us happier. Harvard Medical School has shown that antidepressant usage by Americans is on the rise—in fact it's up over 400% since 1994 (which, you may note, is the pre-device era).

Neurosurgeon and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said the overstimulation is stressing us out and prematurely aging our brains. He called it “America’s hidden epidemic.” 

If you need a little motivation to take a break, here are four hidden benefits of rest you might be surprised to learn.

1. Access Bursts of Inspiration

When the volume of the outside world gets turned down, the inside world gets turned up.

Meditation can be a powerful way to gain access to the good stuff that exists in all of us. “Meditation is not forcing your mind to be quiet; it's finding the quiet that is already there,” wrote Deepak Chopra.

Why is this significant? “Silence is where we get out bursts of inspiration, our tender feelings of compassion and empathy, our sense of love,” said Chopra.  

In that state, the heavier things that have been weighing you down—like fear, anger, and pain—start to lift.

2. Meet Your Non-Work Self 

“So, what do you do?" It's a question that often gets asked when you meet someone new.

A survey confirms that most Americans get a sense of identity from their job. But who are you if you aren't your work? By scheduling time to rest the same way you schedule work or other appointments, you can discover new things about yourself.

3. Lose Fat & Feel Less Hungry

Rest in the form of sleep is critical to losing fat and feeling less hungry. If your workout or diet isn't as effective as you think it might be, consider getting more rest.

In a University of Chicago study, dieters lost less fat when they got only five and a half hours of sleep. They also felt more hungry with less sleep. 

4. Be a Better Problem Solver

The brain gets better at solving new problems after a good nap. A study at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine found that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stimulates new networks in the brain, essentially allowing pieces of information to be connected in new and different ways.

Sara Mednick, author of Take A Nap, Change Your Life, led the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine study. In her TedX talk, she said, “We need to rest. We need to take more breaks. Because, you see, taking breaks is actually part of life. It's part of being active, it's part of being productive and having endurance, it's part of being creative, it's part of being happy." 

Benjamin Franklin said,He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities.” Don't wait until your battery is completely depleted to recharge. Schedule some downtime and give your tired brain and body the rest they need.