The physical and psychological benefits of rest cannot be underestimated. Rest impacts your well-being, productivity, and ability to think. There is a reason that surgeons, pilots, and truck drivers have mandated periods of rest – lives are at stake.
A landmark study by Dr. Ericsson demonstrated that elite performers (including musicians, athletes, actors, and competitive chess players) maximized their achievements through predictable patterns of rest. They practiced in focused sessions no longer than 90 minutes. Then they would take a break to ensure complete recovery. They also got more than 8 hours a sleep each night.
The average American gets only 6-7 hours of sleep each night. With all the things you need to accomplish in a day, sacrificing sleep may seem like a good way to find some extra time. But rest is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Sleep deprivation raises blood pressure, increases inflammation, increases your risk for heart disease and stroke, and raises the likelihood of catching a cold or the flu.
Your physical, mental, and spiritual health are also closely intertwined. When your body is exhausted, your attitude is affected. Physical weariness can turn into depression, despair, and feelings of hopelessness. Your physical and mental state can then affect your diet. Lack of sleep not only increases hunger, but causes you to crave foods high in calories, fats, sugar, and carbohydrates. This kind of diet can then contribute to anxiety and fear. And mental stress has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive problems, cancer, and other degenerative diseases.
As long as your spirit resides in a physical body, it will be impacted by its condition. Where there is disease in your heart and soul, there will be disease in your body. There was no sickness in Jesus. Consider how amazingly worry-free His life was! He never got caught up in a frenzy of activity that we so often see today. Jesus said to His disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). “Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
Ericsson, K.A., Krampe, R.T., & Tesch-Romer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review, 100 (3), 363-406.