To nap or not to nap, the battle against exhaustion
By Taylor Charlebois, Staff Writer
I’d get inexplicably tired during the afternoon. It was like my vital organs and muscles had turned to Jell-O. Just sitting in front of my laptop in shorts and a tank-top, left me drained.
It feels kind of ridiculous to be complaining about being tired when there is a pandemic happening — but alas, we feel how we feel.
Making a cup of coffee or a strong tea, going for a walk, hitting the gym — the usual tactics offered me a slight reprieve. However, the one advantage or disadvantage of working from home, depending on your outlook, is that there is always a comfortable bed or couch nearby. Every now and then, you surrender to its call.
These mid-to-late afternoon stupors were not entirely unfamiliar to me. Even back when I was attending school in-person, or working a day job, I would be faced with an unrelenting urge to nap.
Still, the desire lately has become sharp and incredibly hard to ignore. By the standards of my teenage years, I was burning the candle at neither end.
I’m a relatively healthy person, I eat well, I stay away from dairy and most sugars, I exercise regularly, I sleep the recommended seven to eight hours a night, so what could it be?
My mind begins to roam… do I have COVID-19, Lyme Disease, diabetes, cancer? As a yearly check-up to the doctor’s office would determine, none of these are to blame.
It’s just a matter of energy throughout the day. Sitting at hour-four on my desk chair, the document I was looking at on the screen looked like a winding road toward a mountain pass, so the man in the tank-top and shorts decided to become the man on the mattress.
All of us, except for the superheroes and super-sloths, know people with more energy than ourselves. We may admire, envy, or even pity the tireless social-jugglers, the calendar-maximizers, the cross-trainers or the marathon runners. If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly thinking to yourself, how do they do it?
Energy is both biochemical and psychological, both intertwined and definitely mostly misunderstood. You know it when you got it, and more so when you don’t. This is the enthusiasm you feel inside yourself, that drive to want to do things and talk to people.
It’s the kind of feeling you seek to instil when you crack open a Red Bull or Monster Energy drink, take an ice-cold shower, or take a psychostimulant — such as Ritalin, Adderall or Vyvanse. I don’t think it’s too bold to say that energy is why we’ve enacted a very compelling religion around caffeine.
A year or so ago, I purchased an Apple Watch to survey my sleeping and exercise habits. The hope was that it could provide me with some insight into how my mid-day burnouts were occurring. The watch also conditioned me to begin each morning with a jolt of anticipation. Oh boy, new data. However, as the data would suggest, I slept well, my heart wasn’t doing anything irregular and I was burning a ton of calories.
We like to think we have subconscious control over our own behavior, but as we learn more and more, we come to the sobering realization that that isn’t entirely true.
The other day, I went out for coffee with a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in years. He was the first friend I had made when I moved to Calgary eight or so years ago. We had worked together at a nightclub in our super-early twenties. We spoke for an hour — there are no secrets among us — and then said our fond farewells. I returned to my work desk at home feeling energized.
My watch told me that I had the most gruelling workout of the past month. According to Apple’s data, I had just won a marathon and was now probably going to die. Maybe the watch was glitching but my heart rate was at an all-time high for the entirety of my time with my old friend.
Here is what I think — my friend and I had an amazing rapport during our time together. A surge of good times and good vibes, coupled with a ton of hearty laughs. Maybe the energy that was projected, received and exchanged was something that filled up my cup?
Frankly, I’m not sure, but I think we should all spend a little more time doing things that make us happy and a little less time working in front of a computer screen.