Rest: A Sacred Gift

At the end of a long day, after work and dinner and some family time, you know what I’m most excited about?

Bedtime. I delight in getting into my PJs, grabbing a good book and my water bottle, and settling into my cozy bed.

My bedroom is my sanctuary. I call it my wizard’s tower. It has books, crystals and inspiring artwork – and sometimes a curled-up cat.

I love when it’s time for rest and replenishment. I often head upstairs a couple of hours before I actually want to fall asleep so there’s plenty of time for reading, thinking and maybe some journaling. I may go up even earlier, particularly in the winter.

I’m saying this as an ambitious, creative person with a lot of life goals. I’m a Virgo and I adore getting things done and being productive. But even so, when evening comes I relish my rest time. Most nights I get a solid 8 hours of sleep.

How? I’ve made it a priority.

Taking time to rest is a sacred gift to yourself. Despite the way modern culture tends toward a Cult of Busy, overworking yourself doesn’t merit a badge of honor. “Sleep when you’re dead?” Um, you won’t need to at that point. Sleep is a rather essential part of life. It keeps your body and mind functioning at their best. Resting, paradoxically, makes you more productive.

Making regular time to get enough sleep is a kindness you need and deserve. You can ease yourself into your sleep cycle rather than collapsing on the pillow in exhaustion. I don’t need to detail the health benefits. You’ve heard it before, probably many times over.

So why aren’t you getting enough rest?

There are probably many factors. There’s insomnia which most of us suffer from time to time, some more than others. If you have kids sometimes they won’t settle into their own sleep which upsets your evening routine. You may have thoughts that go over and over again in your mind. Common distractions include Netflix, Instagram and those silly slide-the-candy-around phone games. You may have a partner who snores, or just have plain old Too Many Things To Do. That one’s a classic.

Even with all of those distractions poking at you, it’s key to prioritize your rest time.

Make it sacred. Choose a time by which you declare yourself finished for the day – not the time you absolutely have to fall asleep, but one that leaves some room for winding down.

Tidy up your bedroom – making it an appealing place to relax if it’s not already.

Now take some time to reverse-engineer your evening routine as a whole. Given your “day is done” time, when does dinner have to happen? What time do you start putting the kids to bed or take the dog out once more? Who can help with dishes, laundry, making tomorrow’s lunches or other household chores?

Even if you’re not naturally organized with this stuff, try it, knowing that it will get you some much-needed shuteye. Get a planner or list family chores on a whiteboard.

Unless you live alone you’re probably not the only one in your household who’ll appreciate a streamlined bedtime routine. Be the one who suggests it and work toward it together.

Everyone deserves to wake up each morning feeling well-rested. It’s a gift to yourself that will bring many rewards.

Remember, it’s a work in progress. The evening still might not go perfectly. Those chores or to-dos that don’t get done? Forward them to tomorrow’s list. Your sacred rest is much more important. Find yourself in bed on time but unable to sleep? Read, listen to calming music or meditate. Those things are restful, too.

Skeptical? Try it for a week or two and journal about how you feel each morning. You’ll appreciate the difference having a full night of rest on a regular basis brings.

Nikki Starcat Shields is an author, writing coach and leader of transformational writing retreats. She's also a licensed Pagan priestess. She invites you to a process of unfolding creativity. The world needs your unique wisdom - now is the time to finally take your inspired book idea and bring it forth into the world. Learn more at

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