4. The brain depends on downtime
Ever since the industrial revolution, we’ve treated humans like machines, assuming that the way to get more done is to push ourselves, or others, to keep going for longer. But neuroscientists are increasingly finding that our brains depend on downtime – not just for recharging batteries, but to process that data we’re deluged with, to consolidate memory and reinforce learning, by strengthening the neural pathways that make such feats possible. In one 2009 study, brain imaging suggested that people faced with a strange task – controlling a computer joystick that didn’t obey the usual rules – were actively coming to grips with learning this new skill during seemingly passive rest periods.