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The Return of Recess! Hooray!

recessYears ago, as a society, we were fully aware that short breaks were necessary between periods of concentration.  We knew that those short intervals of relaxation affected our well-being in a variety of ways.  This idea spawned the whole recess industry. Sadly, the idea of recess gets lost sometime around the fifth grade.  Some schools have now shortened, or even eliminated, recess in the name of productivity (or perhaps in a misguided effort to lower the risk of being sued) much to the detriment of school aged kids.

Well, recess is making a comeback — among adults! Of course, adults are far too serious to have recess, so, it’s now called Ultradian Rhythm Intervals.  And science is backing up the anecdotal evidence that short breaks (even brief power naps) can enhance productivity, creativity and a sense of well-being.

thorHere’s how it works:  According to research by sleep disorder expert, Professor Peretz Lavie, we are more productive, and perhaps more creative, when operating in sync with the body’s normal rhythms.  Most of us are probably familiar with the concept of circadian rhythms — the full 24 hour cycle of the human body — but less aware of what Professor Lavie calls “ultradian” cycles.  Ultradian cycles are those that occur during our waking hours.  The basic idea is that we have periods of peak productivity, typically about 90 minutes in length, followed by troughs, in which we should rest. These periods come in a wave pattern from early morning until around noon.


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Then we tend to experience two low energy periods in the afternoon, occurring at around 3 PM and then at around 4:30 PM.

According to Lavie, we can substantially enhance our performance by working in an intense and focused way during those 90-minute peak periods, and then resting, even napping, for 15 minutes, in the low “trough” areas.  Sounds like recess to me!  🙂

Professor Lavie says while it’s important to work intently during the peak periods, it’s equally important to rest during the low periods.  Otherwise, we become fatigued and lose productivity in the subsequent 90-minute periods.  This practice seems to be effective for almost any activity, from practicing a musical instrument, to flying a plane, to studying.

boyNow this would take a bit of effort and planning to implement this, but it seems like it’s worth a try to me!  After all, who doesn’t like recess and productivity!  ! I’m definitely going to give it a try!

As always, your thought and comments are welcome!  Has anyone had any experience using the ultradian rhythm technique?  We’d love to hear about it!

© Copyright 2013 FLYODI, All rights Reserved. Written For: FLYODI: Life -- Better!

3 thoughts on “The Return of Recess! Hooray!

  1. Robbie Wiggat

    Seems like Google and other newer companies have all figured out that you need to take breaks and maybe even play a bit to be really creative. Seems pretty stupid that it took so long to figure it out

  2. BC Brayton

    never heard of these ultradian cycles but I do notice that my ability to focus seems to wax and wan during the day. I usually fix it with Red Bull but maybe that’s not the way to go.

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