I'm Basically Never NOT Tired, So I Tried The Popular "7 Kinds Of Rest" Strategy That Promises Better Sleep

Hi, I'm Megan, and I suck at sleeping.

the author smiling

I've always had trouble falling asleep, and I tend to wake up in the middle of the night to do some ruminating just for kicks. In the mornings, I have a bad snooze-button-habit, and I'm usually exhausted when I finally wake up. So, the idea of getting some more rest sounds pretty darn great to me.

Megan Liscomb/BuzzFeed

So, I gotta say, when I first saw this viral Twitter thread about the seven types of rest we need to avoid burnout, my first thought was, SEVEN?!?!? That's too much work.

And I'm definitely not the only one who felt that way.

I was super curious about what all the different kinds of rest could even be, so I dug in to the thread. Some of them actually seemed pretty easy to incorporate in my daily life while others felt more abstract. But as someone who whines that I'm soooo tired at least once a day, I figured it couldn't hurt to give each one a try.

The thread also links to a Rest Quiz that breaks down what kinds of rest you may need the most. After I got my results, I decided to try an experiment. I made a plan to spend a week trying one type of rest per day, going in order of what the quiz said I needed the most. I also did my best to choose rest options that could be more accessible for the average person than, say, a day at the spa (though that would've been nice).

Here's what happened during my week of rest and relaxation:

1.Day One: Sensory Rest. I gave my overstimulated brain a break by changing up the evening ambiance in my house.

To create a chilled-out atmosphere after dinner, I dimmed my lights and relief immediately flooded my eyeballs. You know when you've been clenching your jaw for hours and hours without realizing it and then you finally let it go? Just lowering the lights felt like that times 10 for me. It's such a small and easy change, but at the same time, it made a huge difference.

Side-by-side of a sunny day with color pigment chart

I wasn't really in the mood to listen to music, so I opted for putting on a relaxing comfort show instead. Gilmore Girls, take me away! Lowering the lights made me feel sleepy about a half hour earlier than I usually do, so I went with it and headed off to bed at 10:30.

For this step, I didn't want to worry about accidentally burning my house down with candles, so I used these nifty bluetooth-operated lights that I can dim and change colors on my phone. Because I look at blue light emitting screens all day, I turned my dim lights orange for some warm tones and extra relief. As an added treat, it felt like being inside of a pretty sunset or a delicious Aperol spritz.

My verdict: This was an incredibly easy change to make, and I really felt the difference. I'm 100% going to do this every day.

Tiina Tartes, Getty Images/ Megan Liscomb, Philips hue

2.Day Two: Social Rest. I indulged in my introverted tendencies by giving myself some extra alone time.

After work, I usually go for a walk as a sort of fake-commute. To build in some extra me-time, I brought a book with me and took a break from walking to hang out in the park with me, myself, and I. It was sort of relaxing, but I had a hard time letting myself enjoy it.

the author sitting in a park

I only stayed for about 20 minutes because I had chores to do and things to take care of back home. But it definitely felt great to have some time in the evening to just chill by myself without any interruptions, such as: my partner asking me if I know where his hat is. At the same time, I felt weirdly guilty and kept checking the time to make sure I didn't stay too long.

My verdict: I might keep doing this maaaybe once a week, but I wouldn't do it every day. It was just hard for me to settle down and chill.

Megan Liscomb/BuzzFeed

3.Day Three: Emotional Rest. I treated myself to a little emotional rest by having a drink with some friends.

So, I met up with a couple of friends to share a cheese board, drink wine, and cackle like witches on the patio of one of our favorite bars. It made me realize how "serious" I tend to be in my daily life, even though I feel like a goofy little gremlin at heart.

HBO / Via giphy.com

This day was simply pure fun, and I absolutely needed it! I'm not always great at making time to be with my friends, but whenever I do, I really feel the difference in my mood. I got sleepy really early, too (though I think it was the wine).

My verdict: I needed this! I definitely want to be better about seeing my friends more.

4.Day Four: Physical Rest. I did some bedtime stretches to wind down my day.

With my mood lighting in full effect and a comfy show playing in the background, I dusted off my yoga mat and set out to do about 10 minutes of gentle stretching. But once I got started, I kinda lost track of time and ended up flowing for 40 minutes.

woman stretching with a cat in her lap

I had planned to do a couple of slow, restorative sun salutations and call it a night. But once I got moving, I felt other parts of my body calling out for attention and care. So, I added some deep lunges for my hips, twists for my shoulders, and backbends to counteract all the hunching over devices that I so love to do.

I accidentally stayed up past my bedtime, but once I got in bed, I fell asleep a little bit faster than I usually do. I really enjoyed my stretching time, so now I know to get started earlier so I can max out my sleep.

My verdict: I can definitely see myself doing this every day! I might sometimes need to cut it short, but doing some bedtime stretches helped me get to sleep and actually stay asleep, which is huge.

Jessie Casson / Getty Images

5.Day Five: Mental Rest. Not to brag, but I already do most of the stuff listed in the tweet below, because otherwise, I will forget literally everything.

Meditation is the only thing on the mental rest list that I don't regularly do, so I decided to try a quick three-minute meditation in the afternoon.

DeStress Monday / Via giphy.com

First, I did some research into free meditation apps, because I'm not totally sure what I'm supposed to be doing when I sit down to meditate and could use some instructions. I ended up downloading Insight Timer because it has a ton of free guided meditations so I can try a variety of instructors and styles to figure out what I like.

I felt weirdly resistant to sitting down to meditate, but when I opened up my eyes again, I felt refreshed, and my head was really clear.

My verdict: Meditation felt great when I was done, but it was so, so hard to force myself to do it. I think this is my "eat your vegetables" of self-care.

6.Day Six: Creative Rest. I spent more time with a book on my lunch break.

I always want to read more, but the tired and burned-out part of me tends to look at this as "work," so I often reach for my phone instead of a book. Reframing reading as rest made it so much more relaxing and enjoyable.

the book of form and emptiness by ruth ozeki

I even made a point of slowing down my reading and taking time to pause and think between chapters. There's some kind of productivity-demon inside of me that wants to speed read everything to "accomplish"... something?? But I realized that there's absolutely no reason to rush, especially since I'm trying to have a restful experience. And once I slowed down, I found myself enjoying my book even more.

My verdict: Taking my time and reading in a contemplative mood made me feel like a book-obsessed kid again! I think this was my favorite day.

Megan Liscomb, Penguin Books

7.Day Seven: Spiritual Rest. Finally, I finished up my week by going through my budget and finding room to set up a recurring charitable donation.

I ended up finding a couple of subscriptions that I'd forgotten about and haven't been using. So, I canceled them and set up a recurring monthly donation to my local food bank instead.

thank you Megan for supporting the san diego food bank

It's definitely a privilege to have things in my budget that I could cut. And it feels really good to know that instead of spending money on stuff for me that I'm not even using, now I'm helping people in my community who need it. I also love that it's recurring and automatic, so I know that taking this bit of time today is going to add up to helping more people on an ongoing basis.

My review: This felt like a great start, and I'm looking into doing some volunteer work at the food bank as well. I feel really lucky to have enough money to give some away, and it made me want to do more.

Megan Liscomb

My biggest takeaway from this week is that even though my tired brain wants to not do things, I feel so much better when I fight through that feeling and do them anyway.

Thinking about these self-care things as "rest" instead of "activities" also made it so much easier to get into them and enjoy myself. Like, the difference between saying to myself, "I should really read more" vs. "Now I get to relax with a book" is huge. 

I don't know if I'll continue doing all of these things, but a few that were really impactful are definitely sticking around in my daily routine. Lowering the lights, stretching before bed, and reading at lunch were all pretty easy to add into my day, and, unlike scrolling on my phone for hours, they all made me feel a little less tired.

Now I'm curious — how do you get these types of rest, and would you give any of these things a try? Let me know in the comments. I'll be reading...