Rufaro Mangwiro | 09 November 2017

In the year 2015 when I was doing my BSc Honours I had a massive workload. I worked very much until I came to a point where I ceased to make any progress but the thought of resting scared me. I thought, “If I rested who would finish certain tasks for me? Isn’t resting when I am not yet done a sign of weakness? Aren’t I giving up so easily?” Eventually I came to a point where I could not decide whether I needed an extra-large mug full of strong coffee every hour or so, or maybe I just needed a big hug and assurance that all will mysteriously be well, or maybe I needed to start believing in the power of magic fairies that I had been dismissing my whole life.

This was because back then I equated resting to idleness and a sign of being a weak person; which I know now is not true. The thing is human beings unlike robots aren’t designed to work continuously and perform good quality work nonstop. We are designed to pulse between spending energy and recovering energy. When we work we gradually move from a state of alertness into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes. Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead fuel ourselves with caffeine, sugary foods and our own emergency reserves i.e. the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol which may not be good for us. From this we can conclude that humans can perform good quality work but only to a certain point; beyond that we begin to waste time. Therefore, whether we like it or not, there is a natural essential need for us to rest before working again.

Rest when strategically taken is not idleness but rather a key to a better life. It is an essential component of working well and working efficient/smart. Resting could be done in the form any recreational activities e.g. taking a walk, listening to good music, reading a novel, star watching, sleeping; the list is endless. Proper rest can relieve all the stress and tension and can help us become more efficient and creative at work. No matter what kind of rest one prefers, its value should not be belittled, as it is of great importance for our physical and mental health. Sleeping is, of course, the ultimate form of rest and an important part of a creative and productive life. For the purposes of this article I will focus on sleeping.

Although sleep makes us feel better, its importance goes way beyond just boosting our mood or banishing under-eye circles. Sufficient sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. Below I have summarised some well researched benefits of sleeping.

  • Increased creativity
  • Improved memory
  • More mental focus
  • Better grades for students in school
  • Depression prevention and less stress
  • Safer driving
  • Improved physical performance
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Longer life

After a series of hard-work Nelson Mandela realized the importance of resting and he uttered these words, “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

Although good sleep is often misunderstood for not working hard enough, a sign of laziness or weakness or is often equated to idleness; take time to sleep. The biggest lesson I learnt in 2015 was not to feel guilty to take a rest because that was the key to working efficiently/smart. If you happen to forget everything else in the article remember this, “Whoever sows hard work sprinkled with a little sleep and a little slumber, will reap bountifully.”