There are so many components to being physically healthy. The required quantities of those components vary from person to person, and they vary as we get older and our conditions change, too. But one thing we all need is REST.
I read a story this week I found interesting:
In 1983, Australia hosted an ultramarathon, a 573.7 mile race from Sydney to Melbourne. I thought people who run 10K's were crazy and marathon runners were insane, but this takes the cake. This is a race that takes DAYS to run, and professionals from all over the world came to participate. Shortly before the 1983 race began, a 61-year-old farmer named Cliff Young, wearing overalls and boots, walked up to the registration table. The people at the registration table thought it was a joke, but Cliff Young made it clear that he wasn't kidding. So they gave him a number and pinned it on his old overalls.
Cliff Young walked over to the start of the race. All the other professional runners, who were decked out in all their colorful running outfits, looked at him like he had lost his mind. Spectators laughed outloud at him. They laughed even harder when the race began, because Cliff didn't have the form of a runner, but ran with an awkward shuffle. Someone even yelled out, "Get that old fool off the track!"
Five days, 14 hours, and four minutes later, at 1:25 in the morning, Cliff Young shuffled across the finish line of the 573.7 mile ultramarathon. He had won the race. What was even more astonishing was his margin of victory: The second place runner was 9 hours and 56 minutes behind him! Cliff Young had set a new world record for the ultramarathon.
What was his secret? How did he do it? Cliff Young had shuffled his way to the finish line without a single moment of sleep! The other athletes endured 18 hour days of running, but then would stop and sleep for three or four hours. Cliff ran, nonstop, for 5 days and 14 hours at 61 years of age!
Now that's a cool story, and I bet Clff proudly displayed his trophy, but at what cost did he obtain it?
See, a lot of us live our lives like Cliff ran that race. We ignore our God-given gift of rest; our body's cry for rest; and we just move to the next thing as if rest was a luxury or a grand display of laziness instead of an essential element in our physical health.
Rest is required for you to be healthy. Some people need more, others need less. If you're sleeping all day, you're probably depressed and that's another topic. But generally speaking, you are not living your best - you are not really healthy - if you are not getting the rest your body needs. Often, working at optimal readiness for less hours gets more done than working longer hours when I'm trying to keep my eyes open.
Much of my work is creative, and I am rotten at it when I'm tired. For linear, concrete, analytical types, your mind is also not working sharply when you are not well rested.
So, take the night off. Get some rest. Build it into your routine. And don't feel guilty about it. You're actually giving the rest of us a gift, too.