How to Rest without Sleeping: The Art of Quiet Wakefulness

We all know how frustrating it is to lie in bed, trying to sleep without any success. The good news is that even when you are unable to fall asleep or don’t have time for a full nap, you can still get some benefits of rest when you practice quiet wakefulness. Let’s explore the basics, the science, and the implications of how to rest without sleeping.

a woman with her eyes closed

How to Rest Without Sleeping: It’s Easier than You Might Think

“I need to get some rest” is typically synonymous with “I need to get some sleep,” but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re wondering how to rest without sleeping, you may be surprised to find that you’ve almost certainly already done it before without realizing it. Quiet wakefulness comes down to resting with your eyes closed. That doesn’t mean that you automatically rest every time you close your eyes; you have to intentionally choose to rest. Resting can include physical and mental aspects like:

  • Regulating and slowing your breathing
  • Distancing yourself from busy thoughts
  • Sitting or lying down

It’s important to recognize that rest does not always look the same. We do not have to be in REM sleep to get the benefits of rest, although of course it is important to also strive to have good sleep hygiene. While the quick and quiet type of wakefulness can be very beneficial, it can’t replace a healthy sleep schedule, which will always remain the ideal. But there are plenty of times in our lives, such as having young children or working a graveyard shift, that will make it challenging if not impossible to have the ideal sleep schedule, and that’s where it can be so valuable to know how to rest without sleeping.

The biggest benefit of this type of rest is not how it affects you, but the fact that you can choose when you do it. Unlike falling asleep which is often frustratingly elusive, you can rest whenever you want. And, as you’ll see from the science, it doesn’t even have to be a big time commitment to make a big difference.

The Science of Quiet Wakefulness

Taking a break from more strenuous activities and allowing your body and your mind to rest has a variety of positive effects as described by the National Sleep Foundation, including boosts to mood, creativity, and alertness. You can also reduce stress by taking the opportunity to slow down for as few as sixty seconds. A variety of studies demonstrate that chosen rest times, even when short, can have these profound positive effects in reducing stress and increasing stamina, like a little boost you give yourself to get through the day.

There’s an overwhelming amount of research available about sleep and rest that can be explored, but ultimately, it comes down to recognizing how to cultivate the right attitude towards rest: prioritizing proper sleep but also recognizing that, when full sleep is not an option, there are other ways to get the rest you need or from which you could benefit in the moment.

a bright and clean bedroom

Some Easy Tips to Start

Not sure how to start practicing this type of wakefulness in your life? When it comes to learning how to rest without sleeping, we recommend starting small. Crawl into bed a little early, or stay in bed a little late, and luxuriate in the feeling of burrowing under the covers without the expectation of sleep. In small pockets of time, try to close your eyes and breathe a little more deeply.

When you’re ready, consider diving into some basic meditation strategies. You can explore different possibilities to determine which method for how to rest without sleeping makes the most sense for your lifestyle.

Transform Your Life by Reconsidering How You Rest

So many people experience a chronic lack of sleep sustained over years of life, exhibiting the same patterns over and over again, such as staying up too late during the week, having unbalanced sleep schedules each weekend, and feeling frustrated with their inability to fit a nap in or to immediately fall asleep when they do have space for a nap. Instead, remember how to rest without sleeping. Practice quiet wakefulness in the way that works for you, whether that’s with focused and/or deep meditation or simply reframing your perspective on sleep.

At Royal Egyptian Bedding, we’re committed to improving your rest, regardless of whether you fall asleep or not. Transform your bed into a more comfortable space with our high-quality Egyptian cotton sheets and other bedding.

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