I ask this question from my background in bodybuilding and strength training. In this field, whether one's goal is building muscle or strength or athleticism, it is important that one takes periods of rest following periods of stimulus, so that an adaptation can occur.

The development of desired characteristics infact occurs from the period of rest, rather than the period of the stimulus itself.

I know that there are as more, if not as many, theories of how strength improves as there are theories of learning. Attached is a picture of the various theories which leads to hypertropy from the book Overcoming Gravity

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However, in none of the descriptions of the popular learning theories I can find (eg: Thorndike's Trial and error approch, Skinner's Behavioural learning theory, Piaget's developmental cognitive process, Vygotsky's inclusion of culture in Piaget's model and so on) can I find an mention of how rest effects learning.

I often notice that medical studentsdo a large volume of spaced repetition activites per day (over thousands of anki cards at times) without any rest. Infact it is said by many advocates of spaced repetition practice in such spaces that we must practice every single day.

The way it's often phrased by members in these communities sound like the amount of stuff we learn doesn't matter. And that, we can learn as much as we want without any restdays.

This gives the impression that we don't need rest days between learning...? But.. I find myself unconvinced of this.

Do we need rest days between learning days? Or can we just learn as far as we can everyday for maximum long term retention of information with respect to time? Please answer with studies. Thanks.

Any references would be appreciated as well, if not answers.


  1. How People Learn, Intro chapter by Stanford Uni, Developed by Linda-Darling Hammond, Kim Austin, Suzanne Orcutt, and Jim Rosso

  2. Overcoming Gravity, Page-16

There are some pre-existing related questions :


  1. Work time before taking a break: This post talks broadly about work and taking a break. I feel it's quite broad and I wish to ask something more specific. Work is a very broad category of activites. It could be something very algorithmic and simple as flipping burgers or something very skilled like makings pots or orchestrating music.

Breaks and Gaps in a single day

  1. Minimum time of an individual work period

  2. Effect and Quality of breaks on learning

Highly similar question:

  1. This question is getting at something very very similar, but I would say my question is much more concrete and showing higher self research effort, and hence it should be closed.


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