“I can sleep when I’m dead.”
If you’ve heard of this saying before, chances are you’re alive and reading this article in the 21st century. You live in a time when “busy-ness” is considered a badge of honor. Overtime work, skipping meals, and neglecting your health and relationships are the norm and if you’re one of the people who chooses sleep over work, then you’re choosing to get left behind. Or so they say.
A growing amount of recent research has shown that there comes a tipping point in which doing more work and getting less rest will inevitably backfire. Two obvious effects are an increase in health problems and a decline in productivity, but more notably, this “hustling” mentality can even inhibit creativity.
In terms of health, overworking can lead to heart disease, sleep impairment, depression, and many others. In terms of productivity, studies show that more than 50 hours of work a week will make you inefficient, lose focus, and more prone to errors. In terms of creativity, however, research shows that it’s when our minds are in a restful, restorative state that we can connect ideas we couldn’t otherwise do that prove to be innovative or creative.
In short, rest is required for your brain and body to perform at their optimum levels no matter if you’re an athlete, businessman, or creative.
Here are some examples of restful activities you can do between tasks and all throughout your day:
5-minute water break
1-hour yoga session
It’s also important to note that both the length and quality of the rest period are important here. Some tasks need a longer break than others, while what you do during the break needs to be considered as well.
When you do schedule some time for rest, do you spend it running errands? Answering emails? Browsing through social media?
Depending on the person, a 10-minute meditation session can be more powerful than a 30-minute chit-chat with co-workers. On the other hand, a two-hour hike up a mountain can be more restorative than an hour-long Netflix binge.
It’s best to evaluate how long you should rest and what kind of restful activity works for you. Spend your rest period wisely and make sure you stick to activities you consider truly restful. Remember, you may be able to sleep when you're dead but that can come sooner than you think if you don't learn to take a break.