It’s a sad reality that many of us forgo vacations to work more. The average American uses only 12 of their 14 earned vacation days, according to, and 25 percent of us go an entire year without taking a single paid vacation day. But not taking time off may actually hurt your bottom line.

The Wall Street Journal interviewed several entrepreneurs who said they had major work-related breakthroughs on vacation. Giving their minds a rest from work-related tasks allowed them to find solutions that had eluded them.

That’s consistent with findings that taking time off can reduce stress, which can help brain activity. Another study found that 35 percent of American workers experienced increased productivity after a vacation, and felt generally better about their jobs.

If excelling in the workplace isn’t reason enough for you to escape to your favorite beach or ski resort, studies have found that going on vacation can lower your blood pressure, boost your immune system — and even prevent death. mentions one study that found that men at high risk for coronary heart disease were 32 percent more susceptible to heart attacks if they didn’t take a yearly vacation. Similarly, studies have found that the longer life expectancy in Europe Union is related to requirements that workers have 20 days of paid vacation.

Do you usually use all of your vacation days? Have you ever experienced a sudden breakthrough while you’ve been on vacation?