health benefits of vacation

Best News Ever: Vacation Has Proven Health Benefits

Our country may be divided, but there are four words we canvery likely all agree upon: “I need a vacation.” Taking time off continues to be a challenge in America’s work-centric culture—54% of Americans left vacation time on the table last year. Even worse is the culture of “vacation shaming” appears to have developed—49% of American workers reportedly feel vacation shamed, or guilt about planning and taking vacations from their jobs.

Thirty-eight percent of employees said they want to be seen as a work martyr (someone who doesn’t take time off because they feel no on­e else can do their job) by their boss. This, however, is to their detriment: These self-proclaimed martyrs are 79% to 84% less likely to report receiving a raise or bonus, and they experience more stress at home and at work.

Despite our cultural resistance to PTO, science says we should be taking more of it: Taking time off has proven benefits for both your health and your professional life. Read on to hear why telling your boss you’re taking off might be your brightest idea yet.

Vacation Is Heart Healthy

The landmark 20-year Framingham Heart Study found that “women who took a vacation once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack than those who took at least two vacations a year.” Another study found that men “who failed to take annual vacations had a 21% higher risk of death from all causes and were 32% more likely to die of a heart attack.” If you ask us, that’s cause for a cheeseburger in paradise…

PTO Helps You Sleep

Aside from the fact that the sounds of the ocean may be wooing you to sleep, and you won’t be awoken by an alarm every morning (if you’re smart), being on vacation can actually help you sleep better. In a study of people who took vacations lasting a week to 12 days, Mark Rosekind, chief scientist at Alertness Solutions, a scientific consulting firm, found that after two to three days on vacation, people average an hour more of good quality sleep. More interesting is the fact that study participants continue to sleep close to an hour more once they returned home than they had pre-vacation.

Even Anticipating a Vacation Helps Your Well-Being

There’s something to be said for being “a planner.” Those who plan their vacations in advance, rather than taking spontaneous trips, have the added benefit of anticipating their escapes. One study found that just knowing a vacation is coming up can have significant advantages. Compared to those who are not planning a trip, those “who are waiting to go on a holiday are much happier with their life as a whole, experience less negative or unpleasant feelings and thus enjoy an overall net positive effect.” Also, soon-to-be vacationers are also “happier with their family, economic situation and health domains compared to the non-holiday-taking group.” Time to subscribe to Condé Nast Traveler and start planning your next trip.

If you find yourself in the “work martyr” category, or think you’re due for a PTO increase, it could be time to sit down with your boss. A week on the sand may just make you happier, healthier, and more productive.

How much time off does your company provide? Do you find employees use their PTO?