The Importance of Rest Days
I remember back when I was in high school, I used to work for days on zero sleep. In fact, I thought it was the coolest thing in the world that I could be so high-functioning in that condition when most people can barely last until lunch time before they collapse. In fact, my favorite phrase used to be "sleep is for the weak", haha. My perception of sleep didn't change much when I got to college, especially considering I was studying engineering. I spent way too many days grubbing on pizza, chugging what seemed like gallons of Mountain Dew, and watching the sun rise. Of course, it took me a while to realize how horrible it was for me - not only a normal human being, but as an athlete. I was sick with something or other all throughout my freshman year, and by the end of my sophomore year I decided something needed to change. I saw the school's sports nutritionist to learn how to eat healthier, I changed my major, and I pulled much less all-nighters (once every few months vs. every single night).
If you were to ask me what I thought of sleep now, I'd tell you it was the greatest thing in the world.
I love it and try to rest whenever possible. Why not take that nap? Why stay up late if I don't have to? I sing the praises of sleeping to anyone who will listen, and since you're reading this, I assume you're all ears. So here's why getting the rest you need is not only good for you as an athlete, but also as a functioning human being.
A quick nap is great for getting some energy to power through the rest of your day. Studies show that anything below 30 minutes will help you avoid that super groggy feeling that sets in when you get too deep into your sleep cycle. If you're super tired, but still need to get things done, why not take a quick nap?
Sleep is one of the biggest steps to helping your body heal. It's when actual physical growth occurs and tissues recover from daily activity. I've found that a good nap and a long night of sleep have helped my body recover from tightness and leads to faster recovery from injury. If I'm feeling pain anywhere, one of the top things on my list to try and fix it is to sleep, which works about 85% of the time. When you're fatigued, your more susceptible to injury, so sleep also helps with injury prevention.
Sleep helps to reduce the stress you can be feeling and can leave you feeling a lot more level-headed. This means you can enjoy your days a little more, concentrate on your work better, and just generally have a better disposition in life.
There are tons of articles out there that list many more benefits of rest that you can just Google and find. The point is: Naps and sleeping are awesome and make everything better. So go take that nap. You deserve it.