Why Be Tired:
Energy For Sedentary Workers
How To Do More Work Without Getting Tired
Conquering Your Fatigue Problem With Food
Improving Your Energy Machine With Exercise
Use Your Glandular Energies
Sex And Energy
Test Your Efficiency
How To Do More Work Without Getting Tired
( Originally Published 1936 )
MEN were carrying pig iron, loading cars at the Bethlehem Steel Works. Each man carried 12 1/2 tons a day. Then Frederick W. Taylor, efficiency expert, computed foot-pounds and calories and reached the theoretical conclusion that each man, each human engine, should carry three times that amount of pig iron. But the men were exhausted at the end of the day.
Hmmm, maybe that was the trouble ; an exhausted man is not an efficient man. Half exhausted by lunch means half a man after lunch. Obviously, they must not get tired if they were to do their best. Taylor was up against the cast-iron belief that a man's fatigue is an accurate measure of the amount of work he has done. The situation called for a whole lot more than mathematical conclusions.
So Taylor borrowed Schmidt, one of the laborers, to make an experiment. He held a watch on Schmidt all day long and alternately told him, "Now, pick up a pig and walk. Now sit down and rest." Rests were so frequent that Schmidt never tired, never slowed his working pace. It was a radical departure from the be-lief that a laborer must never be allowed to stop. Predictions no doubt were unfavorable for the boss who did not rage and the workman who "didn't even get tired."
However, Schmidt carried 47 1/2 tons of pig that very first day, three times as much as the other men, "and practically never failed that pace during the three years that the writer (Taylor) was at Bethlehem."
Schmidt was not nearly so tired at the end of the day as the other men, in spite of carrying three times as much pig iron. Fatigue was not the measure of capacity work ; it was the cause of one-third capacity work.
Prove it for yourself.
I am just as much "from Missouri" as you are. Neither could I quite get it into my head how a man could make his work easier and yet accomplish much more. Taylor's book sent me skeptically down to my basement gymnasium for an experiment of my own.
My experiment consisted of raising as many pounds as possible above my head in five minutes, using several different methods to see if the easiest was the best. I selected a hundred-pound weight to begin with.
The first day I went at it with a will, the way we usually work. I raised the hundred pounds above my head as many times as I could without resting — nineteen times. This required only three-quarters of a minute, and hasty calculation suggested about a hundred repetitions in five minutes. But it took a long time to recuperate from that great effort, or partly recuperate, for the next time I was able to raise the weight only seven times and worked very slowly. I rapidly got slower and weaker, and had to struggle to raise the weight twice on the last lift, for a total of 43 times, or 4300 pounds. I was exhausted and my hands trembled for an hour.
On the second day I used the principle of resting frequently, resting before I tired instead of after, or preventing fatigue rather than curing it. I raised the weight only five times consecutively and then rested, even though I was not at all tired after the first few stints. I remained fresh enough to continue the five consecutive repetitions throughout the five minutes, and fresh enough to work faster than I had on the previous day, and fresh enough to require less rest between efforts. I rested more times but fewer minutes. The result was that I raised the weight 6o times in five minutes, or 6000 pounds. I was fairly fresh and could have continued.
Still, I was too tired. It is no more than logical that a man must be pretty fresh to do his best. My last minute was not as good as my first. The man who wins a race must be fresh enough to spurt at the end. So the third day I reduced the weight to seventy-five pounds and increased the consecutive repetitions to eight. I was able to work still faster, to rest fewer seconds, and at the end of five minutes I was quite fresh, hardly more than well warmed to the work. But I had raised the weight 96 times, 7200 pounds.
That was as far as I went in seeking the most efficient way to raise a weight. I was convinced that a man can do more work by making it, or taking it, easier. I began to measure my accomplishments not by how tired I was at the end of the day, but by how tired I was not. When I feel particularly tired at the end of the day, or when irritability proves that my nerves are tired, I know beyond question that it has been an in-efficient day both as to quantity and quality.
Rest is repair.
There is a simple physical law behind Taylor's discovery. Rest is not a matter of doing absolutely nothing. Rest is repair. When the day crew goes off duty the night crew comes on to repair the machinery. Repair is itself something of a job and requires a certain amount of energy. If you postpone repair too long you are not only using an inefficient machine ; you are getting too tired to repair well and quickly.
That is just what happens when you reach that familiar state where you are too tired to eat, too tired to digest if you do eat. You have not enough energy for the first step in the process of repair. You can go further. You can get too tired to sleep, or too tired to sleep well so that you still feel tired in the morning. That is because every cell is too tired to repair.
But long before you reach these extreme stages you are too tired to repair as quickly and completely as you might, and as you must for best work. Since rest or repair requires energy, you rest much more quickly and completely if you rest while you are fresh. In this way you can reduce your total resting time greatly even though you rest more often. You can also work always at top speed and accuracy, unhampered by fatigue. Between the two you can double your work and halve your fatigue.
In short, no amount of fatigue helps you to do more work. It pays to anticipate fatigue, to prevent it rather than cure it. This holds so true for all types of work that efficiency experts have found no relation between fatigue and the amount of work accomplished. Rather, it is how you work which tires you. You can wear yourself out with merely waiting for a tardy friend, or you can carry pig iron without fatigue. That is probably the most important scientific discovery in fatigue prevention for our busy modern world, obsessed with a sense of hurry and worry, be-grudging an idle moment and practically insisting upon exhaustion.
Making your own work easy.
If you are a riveter you can apply this principle easily to your own work. Riveters were made to rest two minutes after each ten rivets, increasing the number of rivets driven from 600 a day to 1600.
No, you arc not a riveter. In fact, your work is so different from carrying pig iron and driving rivets that you are sure you cannot make use of this principle. If you let go for a moment something will crash.
Wait a minute ; all kinds of men have used this principle unwittingly in all kinds of ways long before science discovered and explained it. In all kinds of work where great endurance has been achieved it has been applied in some form, because great endurance is impossible without it. Never forget that for a moment. And men who have had a lot more to do than you ever accomplish, and less opportunity to rest, have used it.
Edison used it. We used to hear a lot about Edison's great endurance, about how he slept only five hours out of the twenty-four. We explained that by saying Edison was a genius. He was ; but the way he slept had more to do with making him a genius than his genius had to do with the way he slept. He correctly attributed his great endurance to his habit of "sleeping when he wanted to." He could not afford to get tired. He lay down and slept, on floor or desk or couch, as soon as he felt the need of sleep. He slept more often, but he slept fewer hours and did more work. Anybody can do the same. On rush jobs Edison kept his entire crew going day and night for weeks in that manner, with beds in the office and food sent in.
But Edison was his own boss ; neither can you use his method. Another man, who had no time at all to sleep, did use Edison's method without ever lying down or stopping. You will not be able to use his method, but in it you will discover your own application of the principle.
This man was a Norwegian who crossed the Atlantic in a small open boat, duplicating the feat of others of his race before Columbus. In telling me about the trip the weathered seaman said he was lashed to the wheel for fourteen days and obliged to keep his mutinous men at the oars with a gun. "Fourteen days ?" I inquired, wondering if he was getting our language twisted. He insisted that it was days, not hours. He explained that he learned to sleep a second, awaken when he felt himself falling, remain awake several seconds, sleep another second, etc. Thus he mastered the incredible stunt of continual activity by applying the principle of frequent rests to the matter of sleep, making sleep a short rhythmic process rather than continuous.
Rhythm instead of rest.
It is something of a feat to divide nocturnal repose into some thirty thousand fractions, and I hope you will never be so closely pressed that you have to do it. But rest is far easier to break into fractions than is sleep, fractions so small that they are measured by the rhythm of your work rather than by actual periods of rest.
There is no interruption, no slowing down even though you rest. You rest every third second and never tire. This is one of the best ways to apply the law of frequent rests, and one which will fit into and improve any kind of work.
When you go down the avenue with a nervous city-walk you break this law of rhythmic rest, and tire in a few blocks. When you get out with a gun and accommodate your stride to a long country swing that will last you all day, then you are using this law of rhythmic rest. You are allowing your leg muscles to rest between steps, every third second. Without knowing what you are doing you are anticipating fatigue, preventing fatigue rather than curing it.
By far the most important endurance lesson for every athlete to learn is this secret of tireless rhythm, how to pace himself. It is not to be supposed for a moment that the man who swims ten miles has increased our average hundred-yard endurance by 17,500 per cent. He has merely learned the secret of rhythm with relaxation between strokes. He does not swim harder than we do, but easier ; he does not rest less often than we do, but infinitely more often. His actual endurance is certainly no more than four or five times the average. Nurmi reduced this law to chronological ac-curacy and carried a watch to see that he did not run too fast, that he kept to a tireless rhythm.
You must learn to work with this easy rhythm, comparable to a comfortable swinging stride, and rest every third second without actually stopping. It fits into any kind of work of a mental, nervous or light muscular nature. Only in heavy muscular work are actual rest periods better, or even as good.
It is no great trick to master this rhythm. The only true obstacle to it is the nervous disposition which hangs over you like a nervous boss and turns your fingers to thumbs. You can study the technique by watching the Southern Negro work to an indolent tune, getting work done which would kill a white man. The armies of the world use this principle by matching to music. You can use it by working with an easy musical rhythm, motions and thoughts flowing into each other smoothly.
Consider the fact that you can dance all evening with no great fatigue, or even with a relaxing effect, but if you got out on the floor and jumped around hectically for several hours without music you would be fit for the hospital. Which way do you want to work ? Keep that in mind as you work and you will learn to work rhythmically. I have known a number of men who found it helpful to keep a phonograph in the office and play a waltz now and then until they got the trick.
Resting the nerves with internal rhythm.
Music in the office brings us to that other great use we may all make of the principle of frequent rests, the use which strikes at our dangerous nervous fatigue.
Have you ever wondered why music rests you ? It rests you because it relaxes you. But why does relaxation prove so restful ? After all, you do not burn any 1 great amount of calories when you sit tensely. Tensing to an abnormal degree in a cold room will not keep you as warm as strolling around, meaning that it will not burn as many calories, but it will tire you more. It is necessary to look into internal economy and fatigue to understand why this is.
There are bodily processes which must function continually. The beat of the heart is an example. Did nature fashion a pump immune to fatigue ? No ; nothing we know of, not even steel, is immune to fatigue. Nature used the next best thing, the law of frequent rests, the law of rhythm, enabling the heart to relax between beats. It rests as it goes along, before it tires. This small organ has a tremendous amount of work to do : every hour it does work equivalent to lifting your body 100 feet. It would tax your entire powers to carry another man of your weight up some ten flights of stairs every hour of the twenty-four. Only by making an exact use of the law of rhythmic work and rest, striking an exact balance, is the heart able to accomplish so much. It is nature's use of the same law which efficiency experts have found to enable a man to do his maximum work, and with which "fatigue would never occur."
But the heart will tire. It will tire in a few minutes. All you have to do is to throw it out of its normal rhythm. The "nervous" heart, which tires so quickly, is only an excitable heart which breaks its normal rhythm on slight provocation.
This physiological tune, or rhythm, is common to all bodily processes. The rhythmic contractions of the stomach and intestines are further examples, and again nervous tension interferes and causes nervous indigestion and constipation. Nerves, nervousness, nervous hurry, nervous excitement, nervous tension, nerves by any name interfere with these restful internal rhythms.
Therefore music rests you because it relaxes you, and relaxation rests you because it allows the tireless internal rhythms to keep their natural pace. It is very much as though your tissues kept time with the music, though it is really a symphony of nature as ancient as the pulse of the sea.
The nerves and brain, of course, function with this pulse common to the other organs. This has to be true because the commands governing the rhythms of the organs originate in the brain and are carried by the nerves. If the tune did not originate with them they would not have the power to throw the organs out of step through nervous tension. You can discover this nervous rhythm by holding a watch where its tick can barely be heard, noting that the tick becomes in-audible at rhythmic intervals as the rhythm of attention takes a rest. Thus the seemingly continuous processes of mental and nervous activity function, as Walter B. Pillsbury says, ". . . always by a series of pulses."
Why do you suppose the brain and nerves function with the same rhythm as the heart ? It is because they, also, tire easily and must use the tireless balance of work and rest. When you are nervously tense you are interfering with this nervous rhythm ; you are exhausting your nerves. When your nerves are relaxed they establish their own efficient rest rhythms and do not tire.
This is the truly important application for the sedentary worker. As we have seen, sedentary fatigue is nervous fatigue. Nervous fatigue is the most dangerous kind of fatigue. It is not acutely painful as is muscular fatigue, so it is often neglected. It does not aid sleep and promote appetite and all other bodily processes as does muscular fatigue ; it interferes with all bodily processes and makes it difficult to rest. It even endangers sanity when it runs to the extremes of nervous breakdown. But, like other fatigues, it is not necessary. We shall have no more nervous break-downs, no more sleepless nights, no more nervous in-digestion, no more inability to concentrate when we learn to work with relaxed nerves. This is the lesson to be learned in an age when machines relieve us of muscular fatigue, but hasten the tempo of living and put a greater burden upon the nervous system.
How to relax your nerves.
Go into a busy office and mention a simple and easy method of relaxing the nerves if you wish to get injured. It is more risky than telling an Irish foreman his men ought to carry three times as much pig iron. However, there is a simple and easy way to relax the nerves, thanks again to our scientific laboratories.
William James, often called the father of American psychology, began it by asking if we run because we are afraid, or if we are afraid because we run. And are we tense because we are nervous, or nervous be-cause we are tense ? Can a child have a tantrum with-out kicking and screaming ? It sounded like rank heresy but James continued to insist that ". . . by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not." * Furthermore, he devoted his essay on "The Gospel of Relaxation" to the belief that bodily relaxation would insure all nervous and emotional relaxation.
James, however, was only reasoning things out by psychological law which lesser minds could not follow and gave us no laboratory experiments to see with our own eyes. James' work was forgotten and we even began to lean toward an opposed philosophy which told us to "let ourselves go" and throw teacups when we wanted to. What James had said would aggravate nervous conditions and waste more nervous energy be-came a sort of "release." The self-control which has been esteemed for centuries was endangered. But the new philosophy did not seem to cure ; some ninety-nine new professions sprang up to treat nervous and emotional disorders which seemed to be on the in-crease.
Then Edmund Jacobson did laboratory work along the lines suggested by William James. He even cured spastic colitis, an obstinate nervous contraction of the large intestine, with muscular relaxation. He took X-ray pictures in proof and wrote a book called "Progressive Relaxation." He formulated a law that any nervous or emotional state ". . . fails to exist in the presence of complete relaxation . . ."
In short, he proved that you cannot have a tantrum without kicking and screaming, that your nerves cannot be tense if your muscles are relaxed, that you really can control feelings through actions.
The nerves have control over the muscles and it seems that, by reflex action, the muscles have a large measure of control over the nerves. After all, we say it is a poor rule which does not work both ways. So though the mind is but dimly aware of the nerves, and has little voluntary control over them, it can feel tense muscles immediately and command them to relax. This will relax the nerves which are tensing the muscles.
Therefore, relax ! Right now you are tensed some-where. Think over your body carefully. Relax those back muscles, those clenched fists, those corrugated brows. You practically always tense up some part unnecessarily when you work. The harder you think you have to work, the more you tense your muscles sympathetically as if you were going to do it by brute strength and awkwardness. That is the only reason why hard work tires you more than work which you think is easy. Another person thinks your "easy" work is hard and tenses up over it and wears himself out. You drove a car that way in the beginning ; now you laugh at the beginner who thinks driving is hard work, and who makes it so.
There is no such thing as hard work. The work we make hard is the work which we fear, which we think of as so important and exacting that we must tense up over it. That is the definition of hard work. That is also the definition of clumsy work. You must work as you dance, both rhythmically and relaxed. Make work as easy as you can, not as hard as possible. Learn to keep your body relaxed even in the face of your hardest problems, your most difficult situations. The easy Palmer method of writing prevents the nervous exhaustion known as "writer's cramp" ; work that way. "all over."
Can good work be done easily ?
I find that the chief obstacle to getting people to work easily is the almost universal belief that hard work requires a feeling of effort, else it is not done well. I am going to devote considerable space to proving that this not only is not true, but that you can do much better without a feeling of effort. Since thinking is our most important function and a poorly understood art, I shall pay particular attention to thinking without effort. Thinking requires at least as much learning as golf.
To give credit where it is due, William James also foresaw this truth. He said that ". . . if talking high and tired, and living excitedly and hurriedly ..." would enable us to accomplish more it might be excusable even though it did break us down in the end. But it was no aid to accomplishment, he insisted ; it was an interference. But there was not sufficient psychological knowledge at that time to- explain this truth in detail. Now we have that knowledge.
The mind itself is not capable of making what we call "effort." The feeling of effort comes from tensed muscles — the rigid posture, clenched teeth and frowning brow. It is an atavism, the monkey in us, a throw-back to a time when to be startled or excited or nervous meant the imminence of fight or flight ; the muscles had to be coiled like a wound spring, ready for lightning release.
Naturally, this muscular tension is no aid to thinking, but to the contrary interferes with all delicate precisions as well as causes unnecessary fatigue. In the majority of our activities relaxation is the chief art to learn. The tight, gouging fist of the child makes his writing awkward. Even in so vigorous and primitive an activity as boxing the tense, emotional violence of the animal defeats itself ; the fighter must be calm and nerveless in order to avoid both exhaustion and awkwardness. The beginner stumbles over his own nervous system. Collar buttons evade our thick fingers when we are in a nervous haste.
The business man seems to be the last, unless it is the business woman, to discover this aid to good work. The golfer, the actor, the singer, the pianist make a very particular ritual of relaxation. The grim jaw and corrugated brow of the business man indicate that he does just the opposite, insists on a mighty effort.
This is because you cannot see and gauge mental work as plainly as actions involving muscular skill ; therefore you are not commonly aware of either the things which help or hinder thinking. But you have noticed, no doubt, that in a tense situation you never think of the wickedly final and sarcastic answer which comes so easily after you relax. There is an important truth behind that familiar experience.
We have seen that all physical, mental and nervous processes are rhythmic. Tension interferes with muscular precision by stopping the muscular rhythms and tying them into tight knots. Likewise it interferes with nervous and mental activity by breaking normal rhythms. For instance, the rhythm of attention which you tested with your watch can be stopped just as a muscle can be cramped ; when this rhythm is frozen hypnotism is the result. How often do you go into a vacant trance when trying too pointedly, too forcibly to concentrate ? You might as well grip a golf club as if it were a battle-axe. You might as well try to thread a needle with a steam shovel. Thinking is the lightest work there is and cannot be accomplished by the heaviest method.
Thinking with a feeling of effort also indicates an attempt to think with the single mental function of consciousness, since that is the only part of the mind over which we have any direct control. But consciousness is only the guiding hand, the driver ; the rest of the mind is the car and does the work of thinking. Trying to think with the consciousness alone resembles the man who got so impatient that he climbed out and pushed the car. Even forcing the mind with too much conscious effort is like driving with too much effort ; mind or car, the light guiding hand is best. An over-active consciousness is also like a hectic boss. Let the mental men work ; do not crowd them.
This is no theory of our colorful and doubtful psychological schools. It is a fact discovered by our excellent educational psychologists. Furthermore, it was suggested to researchers by experiences which most of us have had. Perhaps you have at times made a great effort to remember something and failed until you turned the consciousness to something else and allowed your memory to function unhampered. And of course you have made bright remarks on the spur of the moment that "just came out" and surprised you as much as anybody.
Studies of dreams furthered our knowledge in this direction by finding that the mind functions with tremendous speed when consciousness is barely present. Hypnotic studies went further and proved that the mind remembers practically everything it ever knew when not hampered by conscious effort. These discoveries resulted in some fantastic theories about thinking, but dreams and hypnotism are of no practical use in themselves because their almost total lack of conscious direction results only in disorderly imagination.
Our dependable educational psychologists, however, did discover that we can make valuable use of these principles by using the directive consciousness with as light a touch as possible. This was shown, for in-stance, by the fact that if you are not sure of the correct answer to a question and make several guesses, your first and "least thinking" answer is most often correct. Again, thinking as fast as you can without a forced feeling of hurry is more accurate and creative than the ponderous conscious weighing which we ordinarily think is best. Or if you wish to remember what you read it is better to read as fast as you can without effort rather than, slowly and carefully. Such things prove that, contrary to usual belief, the mind works best when used easily, lightly, without too much conscious awareness of how thought takes place.
In order to avoid confusion with some popular theories I am going to mention the "subconscious" and "unconscious." These terms are sometimes used to de-scribe collectively the mental functions other than consciousness, or the true functions of thinking of which we are largely unaware. Besides having been victims of much pseudo-scientific mysticism, these terms are not descriptive or clear. When the mind is separated rigidly into "conscious" and "unconscious," complications arise due to the fact that the consciousness be-comes unconscious during sleep and the so-called unconscious is of no value until its functions enter a conscious state.
It seems clearer, far more practical, and less of a strain upon credulity to think of one mind with many functions. One of these functions is known as consciousness ; it is a sort of boss which directs the rest of the mind, calling for this or that to be got out of the mental files and delivered at the gate of consciousness. The rest of the brain is undirected and truly "unconscious" and useless without consciousness, the function of direction and awareness. But this other part of the brain really does your thinking and you cannot be actually conscious or aware of these processes any more than you can know when you go to sleep. Trying to think with the conscious faculty can only interfere with the thinking faculties, even as reason interferes with imagination or memory interferes with present concentration. So, if you have been mystified by the theory, "using your unconscious or subconscious mind" means nothing in the world but relaxed, easy thinking.
How to relax your mind.
Mental and nervous relaxation are, as I have said, accomplished by muscular relaxation. But for the purpose of giving you additional hints I have made extensive experiments to discover the common causes of that conscious effort which freezes the thinking mind.
Practically always it seems to be due to the tendency to exaggerate the difficulty and importance of your mental labors, to take them too seriously and fear they will find you incapable. People who are eloquent in casual conversation become imbeciles when they mount the speakers' platform. You simply must learn that if you can interest the neighbor you can interest all the neighbors, or the world, and not be frozen by magnitudes.
I tested one girl who was good at descriptions, a genius at describing clothes. I asked her to dictate a description of an outfit for a heroine in a story I was writing. Under the assumed magnitude of the obligation her usually glib tongue actually stammered and ground out dead words like a coffee grinder. It was as if she had suddenly discovered a thousand-foot chasm beneath a familiar foot-log. She "tried to think," as she confessed. She tried to think with her consciousness rather than let the thinking mind do its own work. After one impossible attempt she said it was funny but she couldn't think of any more dresses. I had to wait and get a description when she "wasn't thinking," and it was then excellent. As I have said, there is no such thing as hard work, only work which we make hard.
This is a pathetic commentary on our usual mode of thinking. I believe it is particularly true of the business man. Have you ever noticed that you can practically see men thinking at a business conference, pachydermic with seriousness ? This even seems to be a sort of rite acquired from years of excessive attempt to "look interested" and to "look busy." I have fooled the boss that way too, frowning when I wanted to laugh. Business will profit by loosening up and taking itself a little less seriously than death and taxes.
It will help you to relax your mind if you remember this : you have no way of knowing what the thinking mind is doing. Due to this unconsciousness of function and consequent feeling of helplessness you get over-anxious and tighten up when it is important for you to do good thinking. You try to force thinking out of the part of the mind you can control, the consciousness. Do not do it ; it is like thinking of your feet when you are dancing. Forget your mind and do not attempt to know where the thoughts are coming from ; do not become afraid that the thoughts will not mature. Even if we could reduce thinking to simple coffee-grinder mathematics we should not care to, for then there would never be any of the new thinking, the new combinations of thoughts reaching out beyond conscious deductions, which we call genius.
Carry your rest home with you.
Your evenings, which should be quite a factor in your progress and your happiness, are another important reason why you should get home with a margin of energy. You will more often feel like doing something constructive and will have more pleasant and educational hobbies. You will enjoy people more and get more out of them. Your extra time, like your money saved, should be a large factor in your progress ; it is your bank account of time for new investments.
As for your recreation, make it poised, quiet, more truly re-creative and less wearing. Refuse to be hectic and hurried. Play as you work, and it will gain as much in quality and pleasure.
If you are going to be out late apply your principle of prevention and nap for an hour before dinner ; then you may safely subtract two hours from your nightly sleep. And if sleep is the thing you want most in the evening, then go to bed ; the world will manage to worry along without you.
The chief trouble with our modern sleeping habits is that we do not go to bed, even as we do not rest, until we are utterly exhausted, too tired to repair. Sleep is difficult to get started, and then sodden and troubled ; awakening is a bleary-eyed affair that feels like hell. That is nervous fatigue, which hates equally to retire and arise.
Nervous fatigue does its dirty work by preventing relaxation, and that is what you have to overcome if you have difficulty in sleeping. Sleep itself even fails to relax you ; Laird, in his experiments on sleep at Colgate University, found that nervousness causes muscular tension during sleep. So relax, muscles then nerves, before you go to bed. If you fail to relax, take a quiet walk, a warm bath and read something light and pleasant. If you go to bed tense you will rest little anyhow, so do not be in a nervous hurry to get to bed. You may have been told that you must quit thinking in order to induce sleep ; since it is not possible to quit thinking at will, this mistaken rule has worried you and produced wakefulness. You may think all you wish if you think easily, idly, in a day-dreamy fashion ; it will even aid sleep by making you forget yourself. Lack of sufficient exercise and indigestion are of course legitimate causes of insomnia (see the two following chapters).
But the chief lesson we need concerning sleep, and all rest, is to go to bed before we are utterly exhausted. That state makes sleep difficult to attain and unrefreshing. Through complete muscular relaxation you can learn to go to sleep before you fall down, and learn to relax your nerves so you really rest. But this problem is nothing to worry about ; sedentary workers frequently have to learn how to sleep.