Why You May Want to Take a Break Every 90 Minutes

December 17th 2016

Willie Burnley Jr.

The fact that Americans work some of the longest days, take less vacation time, and retire later than workers in almost any industrialized country has a lot to do with why we’ve become known as workaholics.

But perhaps there is a better way.

Research suggests that the way to maximize productivity might actually be to take more breaks — at least one every 90 minutes. This is because, the theory goes, taking breaks in short enough intervals allows us to fully recover our physical and mental energies. In doing so, workers are able to avoid exhaustion and burnout.

According to The New York Times:

“Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. In each of these fields, Dr. Ericsson found that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes. They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.

"‘To maximize gains from long-term practice,’ Dr. Ericsson concluded, ‘individuals must avoid exhaustion and must limit practice to an amount from which they can completely recover on a daily or weekly basis.’"

(The whole New York Times piece can be read here.)

The idea goes that relaxation isn’t only good for your health, which we already knew can reduce the risk of stroke, but that it’s good for your work too. Notably, this is the same reasoning for why employees have rest breaks in the first place.

[h/t LifeHacker]