When sleep isn’t enough: The 7 types of rest.

Ever wondered why you always wake up feeling tired? Like, you're getting more sleep than ever but still feel utterly drained during the day? 

Well, there could be a reason behind it.

Because there's a type of exhaustion and fatigue that sleep can't fix. And as it turns out, sleep and rest are not the same thing. In fact, according to experts, we can be tired in different ways, and each one of those ways requires a different kind of rest. 

Watch: While we're on the subject of sleep... how long should you really nap for? Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

In a recent episode of No Filter, Mia Freedman spoke to Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith — a board-certified internal medicine physician and work-life integration researcher — about rest. More specifically, the seven different kinds of rest that will prevent you from burning out, and help you show up to your life with all the energy you need.

Ready? Here's what you need to know about the seven types of rest and when sleep isn't enough.

1. Physical rest.

As Dr Dalton-Smith told Mia, when it comes to depleted physical energy — we're not just talking about running marathons and spending hours in the gym. There are actually a lot of different components and multiple ways that our physical body uses energy. 

"Everything that we're doing that uses our physical body uses some level of physical energy," said Dr Dalton-Smith.


"If you're a mum, lifting kids, doing laundry and dishes. If you're a nurse, walking around the hospital, moving patients around. If you're a teacher and you're carrying loads of books from one classroom to another. Or if you're in IT and you're sitting at a desk, even the body ergonomics of the workstation that you're at puts a demand on your physical body."

Listen: Want to listen to the full episode of No Filter? Catch it below.

"The things you're looking for are things like, does my body feel good? Do I have neck aches or muscle aches or are my leg swelling? Those types of things that are evaluating the circulation, the lymphatics, your muscle flexibility, all of that's a part of wellbeing within the physical aspect."

In terms of passive solutions, Dr Dalton-Smith said things like sleeping and napping can help combat this type of exhaustion. From an active level, practices such as yoga, stretching, and massage therapy can also help.

2. Mental rest.

"Mental energy is used when we are concentrating and focusing on things," explained Dr Dalton-Smith. "Multi-tasking tends to use quite a bit of mental energy — anytime we're processing and reasoning through things. Everything from going through your email to studying for a test — when you're doing deep work, in any sense or form, it's a type of mental work."

Some common symptoms, she told us, include irritability, forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating.

Sound familiar?

In terms of how you can manage mental burnout, Dr Dalton-Smith encourages people to take a step back, temporarily park big decisions and schedule breaks every two hours, as well as keeping a notepad by their bed for thoughts.


3. Sensory rest.

In terms of sensory burnout, Dr Dalton-Smith said it's one most people can relate to. Things like bright lights, computer screens and background noise can often make people suffer from sensory rest deficits. 

"Everything that we use, from our phones to our computers, to the lights and the noise that we have in our home — whether it's the refrigerators making noise, or our TVs or the honking of horns on our commute to and from work. There are constant sounds in our environment."

As Dr Dalton-Smith explained, when people become sensory overwhelmed, often they can experience irritation, agitation, rage or anger, which is their psychological response to the sensory overwhelm. 

Ahem... can anyone else relate?!

"These are things that affect not only how we experience sensory overload but also how our personalities sometimes respond to that," she added.

In terms of solutions, Dr Dalton-Smith recommends simple practices like closing your eyes for a minute and unplugging from electronics intentionally. And no, doom-scrolling on your phone or binge-watching a show does not help.

"Scrolling is a lot like zoning out," she said. "You get to escape a moment into the scroll or TV show. And it's not very restful, because it actually doesn't tap into the place of your deficit."

4. Creative rest.

"All of us are using creative energy all day long to some degree," said Dr Dalton-Smith. "And because we don't appreciate our own creative nature, we ignore the fact that we need to be inspired to keep our level of innovation intact."


Whether it's creating and presenting a product, making courses, problem-solving, or balancing your family's different schedules or finances — creative energy is not only crucial for problem solvers and idea generators but also for the everyday person.

To build that part of yourself back up, Dr Dalton-Smith said to seek emotional rest through activities and solutions that might help you release these feelings, whether this may be playing an instrument, enjoying nature, appreciating art and creating an inspiring workspace.

5. Emotional rest.

When it comes to what causes us to burn an excessive amount of emotional energy, Dr Dalton-Smith said one of the most common factors she sees is people pleasing — something she said can have a huge drain for many people. 

"I think that a lot of us have that 'people pleasing' part where we're evaluating what someone else is going to think when you come out looking a certain way or wearing a certain outfit — and that adds to really the emotional drain."

If you're feeling unappreciated or taken advantage of, Dr Dalton-Smith said to work on expressing your feelings freely and cutting back on people pleasing by being your authentic self and sharing your true feelings.

6. Social rest.

"People are draining!" said Dr Dalton-Smith. "Usually the people you love the most are the most draining because they need something from you. It's the same with our spouses, our colleagues and the people we work with and for."

If you're feeling exhausted from non-reviving relationships, Dr Dalton-Smith we have to look at the people in our life that don't need anything from us. She suggests surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people who engage fully in interactions.


"For a lot of people, they can't name two people who don't need anything from them. True friends, where you just hang out and you have fun and it's life-giving and they're pouring back into you — that's really what social rest is about."

"Those relationships that are putting demands on you, that's what drains you. You need to then look at the people that pour back into you."

7. Spiritual rest.

While your mind might automatically revert to religion, spiritual rest, at its very core, is this sense that we all have that need of belonging, love, and the need to feel accepted. As Dr Dalton-Smith explained, it's a connection beyond physical and mental and our overall sense of belonging and purpose.  

"When you're seeing some of these hard things, a part of spiritual rest is 'filling up' the need that we get when we know that we have a part to play," she said. "Because sometimes that helps restore us."

Whether that is advocating and speaking up, contributing funds to certain organisations or connecting deeper with your belief system, engaging in activities like prayer, meditation, or community involvement are all solutions that can help you not only gain spiritual rest but also see humanity and feel more connected with the world.

Want to take a look at what's making you feel burnt out and fatigued? Take Saundra’s Free Rest Quiz here. You can also check out Dr Dalton-Smith's book Sacred Rest here.  

Can you relate to the above? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Canva.

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