Is Resting as Beneficial as Sleeping?

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation


Find out the difference between the two.

There are times when you’re tired, but napping just isn’t an option. During these moments, you might wonder whether taking a quick rest—closing your eyes, putting your feet up, and clearing your mind for a couple of minutes—would be as beneficial. The short answer: not quite. But it’s a good second choice.

The Perks of a Rest

Sometimes referred to as quiet wakefulness, resting with your eyes closed can calm your mind, give at least some of your neurons a break (since you’re not actively thinking or concentrating on something), and let your muscles and organs relax. It can also reduce stress, improve your mood, and increase alertness, mental clarity, creativity, and motivation. All of these changes can enhance your productivity.

The Shortcomings

It’s only in the deeper stages of slumber that you get a substantial cognitive boost—resting won’t increase your ability to remember new information. It also won’t help your cells repair or regenerate themselves, and you won’t get some of the other physiological benefits—such as the release of growth hormone and other hormones (including those that regulate appetite and satiety)—of true snooze time.

The Bottom Line

Your body needs both sleep and rest. Think of taking a rest as giving yourself a break or time-out from the hectic pace and pressure of daily life. Resting doesn’t even have to be done lying down. You can do it while seated, by meditating or engaging in visualization or deep-breathing exercises. The important thing is to give your mind and body a chance to recover and recharge when you’re feeling out of steam.