“No Days Off!” “Sleeping is for the weak.” ” You can sleep when you’re dead.”
All of these phrases have one think in common. They all undervalue the importance of rest.
“No days off” is a phrase commonly used in athletics. The meaning behind the phrase is that, if you take time off from training, you are allowing someone to get an edge over you.
For the phrases that involve sleep they are touching on the fact that if you allow yourself to sleep you are missing the opportunity to make progress and get ahead.
While I do support hard work, resilience, and an attitude to always get better, I do not agree with these sayings.
Having played years of basketball, one of the most important lessons I have learned is to work smarter not harder. When I was younger I was led to believe that every touch on the ball was a quality touch, it was better than not getting an opportunity to practice at all. But now I have realized that not all training session are created equal.
For years my mother has preached the concept of diminishing returns. When you reach the point of diminishing returns, it means that no matter how much longer you go or how hard you try, you will not make any more progress. It means that you have plateaued, and only have the ability to stay the same or get worse.
Now you tell me, if getting an extra touch or rep causes you to take a step backwards, is it really worth it?
Now, as I play college basketball, I realize the importance of off days. They are necessary mental and physical breaks that allow myself and my teammates time to rest our legs, minds, and get other work accomplished before coming back to the gym the next day with a renewed sense of energy.
The same can be said for lack of sleep. There are only so many hours in the day and a significant portion of them should go towards sleep.
I frequently hear about college students pulling all nighters. While for some it might seem completely necessary, once they reach the point of diminishing returns it is not worth it. It would better serve them to get some sleep, wake up, and complete the assignment under a given amount of time, than to stay up all night trying to complete an assignment that would take less time if they had enough energy, brain power, and focus.
In a society that values “productivity” and undervalues rest, it is not surprising that we have become less and less productive.
I think the fact that God rested on the seventh day speaks volumes to the fact that sleep is important. I think understanding how ineffective we become without sleep/rest is important as well.
So why do we continue to frame rest as our enemy, and the thief of our productivity?
Next time you find yourself sacrificing rest for productivity, STOP! It’s not worth it.