Everything you need to live well

Rest And All

16 September 2015   |   10:21 am

It is crucial that the individual gets enough rest on a daily basis. Having enough sleep is essential to wellbeing. Inadequate or lack of sleep can lead to many ailments, including irritability, lack of concentration, stress, decreasing productivity, nervousness, aches and pains among others. For this reason, medical experts have for long been hammering on the need for adults to have at least six to eight hours sleep every night.

It has been established that an appreciable number of adults do not get the required hours of sleep. Many factors are responsible for insomnia (sleeplessness). These range from worry and anxiety to some disorders in the body. It is, therefore necessary that the root cause of the problem be identified and tackled, when finding solution to this problem. Consulting a medical doctor is recommended.

There are, however, several steps that can be taken to address the issue aside from the medical. These include observing certain sleep techniques, such as going to bed at the same time every night, sleeping in a well-ventilated room, meditating, emptying the mind of all worries and anxiety, undertaking light exercises before retiring for the night, avoiding heavy meals at night, relaxation and removing all forms of distractions from the bedroom among others.

But it should be noted that it is not only sleep that constitutes rest. Other forms of rest that are beneficial can also be undertaken during the day to relax the mind and body. Simple exercises that are capable of relaxing the neck, shoulders and body generally, are also good means of resting. When appropriately and consistently done, they can reduce stress and tension in the body.

Rest can also be in the form of just taking the mind off the work at hand during the day. One can equally putter around for a short while any time of the day to relax the mind. All these help to slow down the body and mind, thereby relaxing the system.

Other forms of short rest during the day include taking naps in the afternoon, especially when the body requires it. You know you didn’t have enough sleep at night, when you frequently catch yourself dozing in the course of the day. So, taking short naps not only refreshes the body, but also revives it for better focus and higher productivity.

To be included in this category is the annual vacation, which should be incorporated into the year’s schedule, especially for those that engage in rigorous work all through the year. Everyone needs to take a break, at least once a year to rejuvenate the body and system. No excuse is enough to disregard this aspect of life, as the body is likely to feel the negative impact eventually.

Aside the annual leave, shorter forms of relaxation are equally there. Going to the parks or other fun spots in the suburbs or countryside during weekends can be beneficial in this regard.

The Anti-ageing Business

Anti-ageing medicine is nothing new. What is remarkable, though is its growth into an organized field, with journals, annual meetings and a concerted attempt by leaders to have it recognised as a legitimate specialty of orthodox medicine.

There are at present no effective anti-ageing medicines. Yet, the field keeps expanding. Currently, popular practices include, live-cell therapy (injecting the foetal cells of animals into human beings), caloric restriction (drastically limiting the number of calories a body takes in) and hormone therapy (to restore hormones to levels found in younger people).

Here is the crux of the difference between practitioners of anti-ageing medicine and more conventional colleagues: the former are using methods and making claims that the latter consider unsupported by scientific evidence. Most of those methods may be relatively harmless, except to the bank accounts of clients; others may not.

Furthermore, I am dismayed by the emphasis on appearance in anti-ageing medicine. This is apparent not just in the use of senior bodybuilders as models of healthy ageing, but in the prominent inclusion of cosmetic surgery in the American Academy of Anti-ageing but Medicine’s conferences and publications. To my mind, all this represents attempts to deny or mask the outward signs of ageing. It is non-acceptance of ageing — one of the great obstacles to doing it gracefully.

If you are tempted by the promises of anti-ageing medicine, I would advise you to use it selectively. Always assess the potential for harm of any intervention. Then try to evaluate the evidence for any claimed benefits. Weigh potential benefits against possible risks, including exorbitant costs. Get second opinions from doctors, who are not part of the anti-ageing enterprise. If you do decide to follow a special treatment regimen, set a time limit for judging whether it does you any good — say three to six months. Then determine if it was worth the cost.

I want to warn you that the promises you will hear from anti-ageing practitioners are going to become more extravagant in the coming years. A number of hardcore biologists claim to have identified genetic mechanisms that control the ageing process, as well as ways of manipulating them. These biological researchers believe that the biological clock can be stopped or turned back, and as anti-ageing doctors learn about this work, they will use it to their advantage.

My bottom line for now is that these theoretical breakthroughs serve only as distractions from what is important — namely, learning to accept the inevitability of ageing, understanding its challenges and promises and knowing how to keep minds and bodies as healthy as possible, while moving through life’s successive stages.

To age gracefully means to let nature take its course, while doing everything in our power to delay the on-set of age-related disease. Or, in other words, to live as long and as well as possible, then have a rapid decline towards the end of life.

  • Dr. Andrew Weil

 On Living Better Longer

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