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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.



An important realization for me on my path to retirement was recognizing that I had much less interest in being on the cutting edge of my work areas. I have spent forty years in education and all of those years not only teaching (grades 7 through graduate school), but also teaching and being involved with technology. That latter area has included film, video, computers, instructional technologies, web design and social media. These are the areas that required staying on the cutting or leading or bleeding edge of what was new and relevant.

I always tried to stay current with literature and writing (where I did most of my teaching) and pedagogy. But technology is harder to keep up with as it changes every day. It’s even harder in the education world because in education it is harder to cause change than in industry – and education has far less money for tools and technology.

If you look at the origin of those terms – cutting, leading and bleeding edges – they are closely tied to technology. They are also rather dangerous-sounding. Cutting and bleeding certainly call to mind their knife and sword blade origins. The leading edge may be aeronautical in origin, but seems to me a bit like wing-walking or standing at the edge of a cliff – both things I have no desire to do.

And that’s where I am now – backing away from the edge. I still have an eye to topics about literature (especially poetry) and writing. I pay more attention to articles about education than the average person, but far less than I did in the past.  With technology, my interest in knowing what is the latest tool or trend has very little appeal to me.

I think this must be true of anyone considering retirement from a career. No longer having an interest in staying at the forefront of that field is definitely an indicator that it is time to leave. Of course, it doesn’t always mean retirement. It could happen to you mid-career and mean it’s time to find a new way of making a living.

The view is still very interesting when you step back from the edge. Actually, we tend to view “stepping back” to view something as a good thing to do. It’s certainly a less stressful and dangerous viewing position.


I was listening to an episode of the Unretirement podcast that was on creativity which featured Richard Leider who has written a number of self-help books, including several about finding purpose in your life.

Richard Leider gave this formula:  G+P+V=P   Gifts + Passion + Values = Purpose

Gifts are those talents we have that we really care about. They are not just “what you’re good at” but also what you love to do. That leads right into the passion you feel for things or even a deep curiosity you have about something. Values have meaning besides the things you value and the values that guide your actions. It includes the environment where you live and work – a healthy environment, not just a physically healthy environment, but also an environment (such as in your home or workplace) where relationships are healthy.

Your purpose then becomes the reason for getting up in the morning.

Having written books with titles like The Power of Purpose and Life Reimagined, you might guess that in his talk on that particular podcast the topic might have focused on people who are at a point in their life where they’re asking, “What’s next?”

Chris Farrell’s podcast on “unretirement” comes from his own book on the topic, Unretirement. In it he describes the old idea of retirement as meaning withdrawal. He see that definition of stopping productive employment and minimizing their activities as a “short-lived historical anomaly” whose time has ended.

Farrell sees the boomer generation, poised to live longer in better health than any before, as the generation to go into unretirement―extending their working lives, often with new careers, entrepreneurial ventures, and volunteer service.

I am one of those people who is asking myself “What’s next?” but Chris Farrell’s past life reporting on personal finance and economics drives a lot of his unretirement ideas.

His book’s subtitle – How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life, and the podcast dwell too much for me with the financial impact of working longer.

He believes (and he’s not alone) that if you can work well into your 60s, even earning just a part-time income through a bridge job or contract work, you’ll make so much more in the course of a year than you could from saving. This is a financial picture of not having to tap your retirement nest egg during those years, maybe even adding to it, and waiting to claim Social Security until age 66 or 70.

Money and “work” in any traditional sense is not the purpose I see driving me for the remainder of my life.

For me, Richard Leider’s ideas of a life reimagined is concerned with a new phase of life that is not focused on money.

In one of his blog posts he talks about giving a friend the book A Year to Live by Stephen Levine. He wanted to encourage his friend to adopt a new outlook for his life. He wanted him to shift to “living with purpose” rather than “having a purpose.”  Stephen Levine‘s book also has a subtitle (as it seems all non-fiction books must these days): How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last.

Thankfully, I don’t only have a year to live as far as I know, but it is not too soon to be thinking about being better about fully living now before the end comes. In other words, live as if you had only one year left. Leider believes that the experience of living this way for just one day can inform and impact your own sense of purpose because living with purpose means choosing how we spend our time, choosing how we will use our most enjoyed “gifts” in order to create more joy and meaning for ourselves and others.

A formula like Gifts + Passion + Values = Purpose is a nice shorthand for a complicated sets of ideas and a big change in lifestyle. But there is no simple formula that works for everyone. It is simplified even more in a scene from City Slickers. (A comedy that I saw 24 years ago that has a few serious scenes that have stuck with me.) It’s all about finding that “one thing.” And that one thing is not something anyone else can tell you. You have to find it.

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