Living Forever Young, Day 4: Resting Forever Young

Let me ask you a question: do you drive? And if you do drive, do you have your own car? Assuming yes, do you look after it – fill it up with petrol, top up things every so often, pop it into the garage for a full service? Of course, you do – because your car has to be roadworthy.

Now, think about your own vehicle, your body. When was the last time you gave it some love and attention? What about your mind? No car can keep going well without it being serviced – it might keep running, but not as smoothly as it would if you showed it a bit of love every now and then. The same applies to your body and your mind. The great thing is you don’t get any servicing bills with your body. Rest, recuperation and a little bit of homemade pampering are all that it needs to feel rejuvenated – as long as you do so regularly. Like all marvellous machines, your body needs to be able to rest in order to function optimally long into your old age – you wouldn’t drive a car continually and expect it to last over 100 years. Don’t expect the same of your body and mind.

The body cannot function without rest, and specifically without sleep. We know this because it’s impossible to fight sleep interminably – eventually, the body takes over and sleep ensues. So, although there is still much that baffles scientists about the nature of rest and sleep, one thing is certain – we can’t do without them.

Interestingly, scientists have shown that rest – that is, complete, uninterrupted, unstimulated switching off with your eyes closed – is almost as restorative as sleep. If you started walking one day, even at the slowest pace possible, with the intention of just keeping going, eventually your muscles would tire to the point that they give way. You would have to stop. Rest, then, is a time of repair and renewal, just as sleep is. It does most of the jobs that sleep does, but at a slightly lower level, while we are awake. Sleep, on the other hand, is the brain’s prescription for complete mental and physical recovery. Scientists think that sleep is a time not only for the physical body to repair and rejuvenate, but for the mind to consolidate the day, process learning and form memories. However, sleep scientists also believe that meditation – resting with your eyes closed, but remaining awake – is pretty good for mental decluttering, too.

This is an excerpt taken from Living Forever Young by Skip Archimedes, publishing this June by Watkins Publishing Ltd.

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