Maybe it is because I taught in a public school for many years, but I still find myself feeling really tired and ready for a nap around 3 pm. What is going on with my body clock?
Sleepiness generally hits all of us 7-9 hours after we wake up from a night’s sleep. That’s not very convenient for anyone who works a normal day. If you wake up at 7 am, it will hit you somewhere from 2-4 pm.
Generally, we fight off the urge to sleep, but our alertness drops. Now that i am in unretired mode, I don’t fight off the feeling much. I take a nap, but for most of you that is not an option.
The fatigue can also be attributed to adenosine, a chemical that accumulates during the day and causes sleepiness. But don’t go out trying to find some adenosine to help you sleep at night. It is used for treating certain types of irregular heartbeat and during a stress test of the heart.
When this sleepiness hits, your internal body temperature also drops starts dipping, I do like a blanket for nap time and a drop in body temperature signals your brain to conserve energy and prepare for sleep.
So what can you do when a nap is not an option? Many people chug down some caffeine or crave a sugary snack. These are not very healthy relief. I love my morning coffee kick, but I can’t do caffeine in the afternoon without wrecking my sleep that night. My wife can have a strong cup of caffeine before she goes to sleep.
What are alternatives?
Dehydration can cause sleepiness, so a glass or two of water can also help. I try to log 64 ounces every day on my Fitbit app.
Get outside and get some sunlight. Twenty minutes of sunlight (through clouds counts too) sends a signal to that brain clock to turn on some energy to wake up and be more alert.
I love to walk and there is evidence that even a 10-minute walk that is brisk can energize you again. You can do it inside, but a walk outdoors adds that sunlight boost.
Want to add more to that walk? Make it social. Some research shows that talking with someone and social interaction can help give your mind a break and gets you to focus outside yourself. Get a walk buddy. Have a walking meeting. Even a phone call (not a text!) might help.
Lots of websites, like the Fitbit blog, will tell you that nap time isn’t just for pre-schoolers. Tell your boss that data shows that a brief, 20-minute nap can be enough to boost mental and physical performance.