The performance rhythm is one of the core energy and productivity principles we teach at Regenerate. It’s based on the fact that humans are biologically designed to pulse between work and rest for optimal performance.
You’re probably familiar with the sleep cycle, which moves between periods of high and low brain activity every 90–120 minutes. The same process happens when we’re awake, called our ultradian rhythm.
During our high-activity periods (~90 min.), brain and metabolic activity increase and cortisol slightly rises, signaling alertness. Then, the brain and body downshift for about 15–20 minutes. This is the vilified “slump” we try to conquer with another cup o’ joe.
Research has shown just how important it is to abide by the performance rhythm. Trudging through rest periods creates overall lapses in productivity and decision making throughout the day. Continuous brain and cortisol activity (vs. rhythmic) have been linked to chronic disease and lower subjective wellbeing. Abiding by the performance rhythm effectively keeps you in performance state longer.
It’s time we abandon the culture that glorifies constant hustle and burning the midnight oil. That’s just not how we’re meant to operate, and it will eventually force us into survival mode and ultimately burnout if things don’t change. Moving forward, find ways to take advantage of the performance rhythm: take breaks to move your body, talk to and connect with coworkers, eat, and practice breathwork.
And an added challenge: encourage those around you to do the same. As a leader, building high performing teams is only possible if the individuals on the team are operating in performance state. Performance state is only possible with the adoption of wellbeing practices and building a resilient workforce.
By learning and leaning into the ultradian rhythm, you and your team will have even greater output with less time spent at your desks and you won’t feel like a zombie after a long workday.