One of the keys to effective time management is effective rest. But resting well is actually not intuitive, and often times the ways we choose to rest are not restorative.
When working out, one usually tries to max out on one muscle group (triceps) before moving onto the next muscle group (shoulders). Now, often times, after maxing out on one group, my body feels completely empty and I have nothing left to give. But when I switch to the new muscle group, I find that I actually have a lot of strength left to expend. The same is true of mental fatigue. I found this to be true in college, where I double majored in neurobiology and creative writing. I could study the science of the brain for hours, feel exhausted, and then switch to write a poem as if I had just woken up. Why? Because our brains work in different capacities based out our activities. And I found that writing a poem actually helped rest and recharge my brain to do more science.
One of the keys to effective rest is asking the questions, “Where am I spent?” and “How can I best recharge?” Sometimes the best way for me to rest is being alone, sometimes it is with a couple close friends, and sometimes it is at a large party. But often times, my “rest” times can actually be very productive, either relationally or in different modes of thought.
Don’t get me wrong. There are times where I am spent in every way—physically, emotionally, mentally, etc.—and I actually can’t do anything else productive. But those times are few, and in those times, I choose to sleep.
Sleep is necessary, restful, and needs to be a priority. But with too little sleep we collapse and lack excellence, and with too much sleep we are lethargic and don’t try for excellence. Sleep science says that 4 days of 8 hour per night sleep is actually more restorative than 3 days of 6.5 hour sleep and 1 day of 14 hour sleep. Why? Because the longer time you sleep, the more shallow your sleep becomes. The extra hours of your 14 hour sleep actually do very little towards making you feel rested.
For the same reasons, staying up late is generally harder on your body than getting up early. If your body is used to sleeping at 10pm and you go to bed at 1am, it won’t get as much deep sleep because it is used to getting that deep sleep from 10pm-1am, when you are now awake. On the other hand, getting up at 5 am instead of 8 am cuts out 3 hours of your more shallow sleep, leaving you, on the whole, more restored.
You cannot let sleep run your life. God didn’t call you to stay in bed, but He didn’t call you to run on empty, either. Here are some practical tips to control your sleep rather than have your sleep control you.
Set multiple alarms, and make yourself get OUT of your bed to turn them off.
Have a wake up / bedtime accountability partner
Have a quick cold shower / put cold water on your face when you wake up
Get out of your house when you wake up
Resting excellently will allow you to maximize your time, submit it to the King, and see the Kingdom of God advanced.
By Ben Drum, Neighborhood Section Leader