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  • Writer's pictureMotto Health

Why is Restorative Rest so essential for people with autoimmune conditions?

When you think about the term “Restorative Rest,” what images come to mind?

Restorative Rest is essential for every person. But for people with auto-immune conditions, we think of it as an essential medicine. This is true for all our patients, and especially critical for those with RA and fibromyalgia. That’s why at Motto Restorative Rest is one of our 7 Pillars of Care.

Our approach to rest is unique. We think of it as a bigger umbrella than most medical providers. Sleep is one critical element of rest, but it’s not the only thing. We also help our patients prioritize and balance 4 kinds of Restorative Rest on a daily basis: Physical Restoration, Emotional Restoration, Mental Restoration and Soul Restoration.

Why is Restorative Rest so essential for people with autoimmune conditions?

Let’s take a look, starting with sleep. For people with chronic autoiimmune conditions, sleep can:

  • Decrease pain

  • Reduce inflammation throughout your body

  • Lift your mood (decreases anxiety and depression, and increases positive emotions)

  • Repair damaged muscles and tissue

  • Help you cope better with stress

  • Reduce fatigue and rebuild your energy reserves

So, what does it mean to get “good” sleep? Big picture, it means two things:

  1. You sleep long enough: Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. For people with RA, under 7 hours of sleep is associated with more pain, fatigue and negative moods. Our experience has shown this to be true across chronic inflammatory conditions.

  2. Your sleep is high quality. This means you are sleeping with few if any interruptions so you get to the high-quality “deep sleep” stage that is so restorative. It also means that if you wake up in the middle of night, you can get back to sleep quickly.

“I Sleep, But I’m Still Tired”

People with autoimmune conditions often have the experience of getting 8 hours of sleep and still feeling deeply fatigued. That’s why we also focus on helping you bring intentional rest into your daytime hours.

The concept of “rest” can be tricky to navigate for folks with AI conditions. It may often feel like you can’t do anything but plop on the couch and watch TV – and yes, sometimes that’s exactly what you need!

But for those of us with autoimmune conditions, too much inactivity is counterproductive. That’s why we focus on the concept of Restorative Rest:

  1. Find a balance of activity that’s unique to you, and

  2. Cultivate activities that help you restore and replenish your energy

Here’s an example of what that looks like in each of the 4 categories of Restorative Rest:

  • Physical Restoration: Finding a balance between stillness and daily movement is absolutely essential with autoimmune conditions. The right balance actually helps to reduce fatigue. Some gentle movement activities our patients love are walking, stretching, yoga and Tai Chi.

  • Emotional Restoration: Do you tend to overextend yourself socially or to isolate yourself? Who are your emotional supports? A “just right” balance will help you cope with stress and combat anxiety and depression, whereas too much of either is draining.

  • Mental Restoration: Just like muscles need rest after exercise, your brain needs breaks from focused concentration. Even small breaks are very beneficial–get up from your desk to get a glass of water and let your mind wander. Or close your eyes once every two hours and take 5 long breaths.

  • Soul Restoration: We all need time to tap into something bigger than ourselves, activities that inspire our spiritual, creative, or artistic sides and fills us with awe. A walk in nature, an art practice, prayer, or just making some time to play and laugh replenishes our spirits.

How do we help?

At Motto, our Health Coaches sit with you to do a full assessment of both your sleep habits and how you are spending your energy during the day. We start by understanding your challenges–whether it’s a hard time getting to sleep because of pain or prioritizing time for yourself because of family obligations. Then we work together to come up with a plan that is just right for you, and support you as you implement it step by step.

Everyone with an autoimmune condition needs a plan for Restorative Rest in their life! Let us help create a roadmap that is holistic–and uniquely yours.

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