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How To Be Healthy: More Rest - Less Tension
( Published 1962 )
One hears and reads a great deal about the beneficial effects of exercise for physical fitness. What I believe to be equally as important is the necessity for rest and relaxation, especially for those who are overwrought or in poor health.
Do you frequently get up in the morning so tired that you feel as though you had been pulled through a keyhole, and not knowing how you can make it through the day? If so, the first question to ask yourself is how much sleep you are getting each night, because fatigue can be a symptom of organic disease. It is the most common complaint that doctors hear.
Rest and sleep are as important as exercise, food, and pure air. You cannot expect your body to maintain its energy and endurance on little sleep, because it must have proper rest to relieve weariness and revitalize the tissues. Also, the more rested the body, the better the blood circulation.
Loss of sleep is in fact very injurious to health and accelerates aging. People who sleep five or six hours a night, and appear to evade the consequences, often find themselves in impaired health later on. The statistical standard in the United States is from six to nine hours of sleep a night. Most people need at least eight hours' sleep, and some require more. Personal experience over many years has taught me that from ten to twelve hours of rest, not necessarily taken all at one time, make me feel my best. As Cervantes said in Don Quixote, "Now blessings light on him that first invented sleep! It covers a man all over, thoughts and all, like a cloak; 'tis meat for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, heat for the cold, and cold for the hot, and the balance that sets the king and the shepherd, the fool and the wise man even."
It is true that recreation is essential for good health, and that food can offset loss of sleep to some degree, but there is nothing that can actually substitute for sufficient relaxation. Requirements may vary with different individuals, but if one does not get the amount of rest he needs, his life expectancy will definitely be decreased. Lost sleep can never be regained.
For good, relaxed sleep, calcium (a nerve soother), vitamin B-complex, vitamin C, and lactic acid (from milk products) are helpful. In general, the more hours devoted to sleep prior to , the better rested you will be.
In addition to a first-rate diet, the secret of sustained, buoyant health of body and mind during the later years of life is to provide for a healthy balance between exercise and rest. In these later years especially, it is wise to permit oneself short intervals of complete relaxation. Best of all, a regular daily nap is a wonderful youth conserver and can add up to ten years to the life span.