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Taking Unplanned Rest Days – My Story

Have you ever gotten out of bed in the morning and while brushing your teeth contemplated when you would have time to take a nap later that day?

I can’t be the only one!

This happened to me again recently.  It is not the first time it has happened to me, but it is the first time that it was also combined with me realizing it was only Wednesday and there was a long time to go until the weekend, realizing that I was very unmotivated to go train, and remembering how weak and tired my body felt the night before when training.

In that instant, I chose to go back to bed.  I decided sleep was a better idea than training.  I remembered a rest day would not kill me…and would actually be more beneficial for me than training in my present state.

Rest, sleep, recover…that is how we build ourselves up!

This is something that has taken me a LONG time to figure out.  I used to push my body hard every single day. I used to think that if I took a day off that I would get weaker and slower.  I used to think the only way to make gains was to continue training.


Sleep is essential for our mental focus, processing, coordination, execution of tasks, etc.  If we don’t let ourselves get enough rest and sleep, our bodies don’t recover and we don’t perform well – that includes both our daily tasks and our training.

Along with the sleep aspect, we also have to take our stress levels into consideration.   High stress levels from our daily lives can compound the effects of decreased sleep. THAT is exactly what happened to me.  I had been going non-stop for the past several weeks, giving myself very little downtime to rest my brain or meditate. It finally caught up to me.  I was getting enough sleep for what I normally need, but the increased stress and lack of mental rest took its toll on me. It was telling me to STOP!

So how exactly does sleep and stress impact us?  Lack of sleep increases cortisol levels. Increased stress increases cortisol levels.  Combine the two together and we are setting ourselves up for disaster. When cortisol levels increase, our performance suffers!  Our muscle tissue can actually begin to break down and we become weaker. When we train with increased cortisol levels for long periods of time, we are placing ourselves at an increased risk of injury and/or setting ourselves up for an overtraining situation.

Learn from my mistakes rather than from your own.  If your body is telling you to take a break, listen to it!  If you don’t, you may not like what happens in response.

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