Tips from an army wife, an infantry soldier, and two physicians
I’ve always been a “napper”. Recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am a naturally exhausted person. Yes, I’ve had bloodwork done and it comes back with normal results.
I just like to nap and sleep.
Now that I’m an army wife, writing daily, looking after a puppy, and the mother of a busy, “no-napping” toddler, I know a few things about working through exhaustion.
Daily, most of us work through exhaustion. In this fast-paced world, our lives are a blur of caffeine and computers, with minimal downtime.
I’ve begun to accept my perpetual tiredness as a part of my life and found ways to cope with it. After all, I’ll sleep when I’m dead right?
Some of these tips are my own and others are from my husband who was an infantry soldier for 11 years. I’ve also received advice from two of my friends who are very busy physicians.
These people are experts on the topic of working while exhausted.
1. When you know the next day will be a long one – go to bed early
If you have the privilege of knowing that tomorrow is going to be a long day at work, go to bed early. Pop some melatonin and turn in at 8:00 pm at the latest.
I know, it’s tempting to stay up and binge watch Netflix, but your body and mind will thank you for the extra rest the next day.
2. Limit your caffeine intake
Drinking copious amounts of coffee will result in a jittery feeling and energy crash later. If you can, try to limit your coffee intake to one cup a day.
The best time to have your ONE cup of coffee is around 1:00 pm after lunch. Typically, this is when the dreaded afternoon slump hits.
Instead of consuming too much caffeine, drink lots of water and eat small energy-packed snacks and meals. Nuts, fruits and vegetables, and protein bars are good snack choices.
Eating healthy and drinking plenty of water is the best way to get through a long, taxing day.
3. Focus on the task at hand
This one is from my husband, who has stayed awake for days at a time without any sleep during military exercises and patrols in Afghanistan.
When I asked him for tips on coping with exhaustion, this is what he had to say:
“Don’t dwell on how tired you are. This is not going to get the job done. Focus on what you are doing and live in the now. Eventually, you will get time to rest but that time is not now, so stop thinking about it!”
This makes sense. For example, if we convince ourselves we are getting a cold, we will start to show signs of being sick.
When you focus on how exhausted you are, you will feel more depleted as a result.
4. Sneak in a cat nap
My friend is a general practitioner with a practice of almost 2000 people. How does he do it? He is a “professional catnapper” according to his girlfriend.
He can lay down, immediately fall asleep, and wake up in ten minutes, completely refreshed.
A catnap will energize you but a long nap may make you feel worse. I’ve woken up after long naps thinking I’m 7-years-old again and missed the school bus. That’s not refreshing, it’s scary!
You can even nap in your car on your lunch break! Recline your seat, set an alarm, and close your eyes.
5. Take Vitamin D
According to my friend, who is an emergency room doctor, Vitamin D is a supplement that most of us should be taking.
Vitamin D has many benefits and it really boosts your energy level when taken on a regular basis. It assists your immune system to function normally.
For maximum Vitamin D absorption, take your supplement with a full meal. Since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is best absorbed when taken with a high-fat meal.
Please consult your doctor before taking any new supplements or medications.
6. Turn down the heat
Being cold keeps us awake for longer. My husband has said that the colder the weather was, the easier it was to stay awake during his military deployments.
If you find yourself nodding off at your desk, peel off those layers! If it is cold outside, try a brisk walk in the elements.
If you’re at home and nodding off, sneak away for a cool shower for a fast wake up.
Most of these tips involve looking after your body.
If you are burning the candle at both ends, you will eventually deplete yourself. I know this through experience.
Working through exhaustion can be taxing but the feeling of knowing you got through the day successfully is satisfying.
You made it out alive, pat yourself on the back, and relax!
“The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when no one else is watching.”-Anson Dorrance
Amy Cottreau is a freelance writer who hails from a small city in Atlantic Canada. She enjoys interacting with fellow writers, dreaming of ideas for her next article, and researching a myriad of topics.