Rest and Better Brain Power

I read a detailed article recently on the importance of rest and the brain’s ability to function at maximum capacity. Although the length of the article alone nearly put me to sleep after a long day, I found much of the evidence shared in the Scientific American piece extremely valuable. I especially needed to be reminded of the critical equilibrium between work and rest—because long-term success depends upon this kind of personal and professional life balance. Rest and better brain power are directly related.

If you’re like me and need to have rational reasons to let yourself rest and relax, then take a look some of these findings and see if they’ll be of assistance to you as well:

  • “Downtime” actually allows our brains to process better, because rather than shutting down, these periods of rest provide opportunities to sort and make sense of information that has been acquired.
  • Allowing our brains to take a break actually helps them resolve internal tension and discover potential solutions to problems more efficiently.
  • In addition to taking mental breaks, sleep is essential for restoring brainpower. Scientists now believe that memory consolidation not only takes place during sleep but also during periods of rest and relaxation.

So, what can busy professionals do to become more restful in the fast-paced world we live in? Here are a few recommendations that most of us could readily implement in the days ahead:

  1. Take a 10-20 minute mid-afternoon “nap.” Researchers relate this to rebooting our computers, allowing our minds to take a break and then finish the day strong.
  1. Make time for “peaceful reflection” each day. Even scientists are reporting that prayer, meditation, and experiences in quiet settings positively impact the human psyche.
  1. Exercise our bodies to rest our brains. While we won’t tune out entirely, taking a long walk or working out at the gym changes the focus of the mind—a natural way to let our brains find respite during a hectic day.
  1. Turn off and tune out the constant input! The information age we live in could literally become 24/7 if we let it. We can give our minds a well-deserved rest by getting away from our electronic devices, especially during the hours right before bedtime as we prepare for much-needed sleep.

At LEADon, we encourage leaders to work hard—but then learn how to find life balance so they can be far more effective over time. As you infuse this type of rest-mentality into your schedule, you’ll also become a great role model to others in your sphere of influence who desperately need to learn how to give their brains a break too.

(*If you’d like more details on this topic, read Scientific American’s article “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime” by Ferris Jabr. October 2013).