Wake up, everybody!
It's time to talk about the results of the informal tiredness quiz I shared with you a few weeks ago.
As you may recall, I asked you to try to remember the last time you didn't feel tired. Then I requested your analysis of your tiredness, or lack thereof.
This all came about because I seem to feel tired almost all of the time, and I was wondering if anyone else does, too.
Several of you responded, and your reactions were quite interesting.
For example, a reader named Christie wrote in an email that she differentiates tiredness from sleepiness.
"The sleepiness I can usually control by going to bed at an earlier hour," she wrote. "In fact, going to bed earlier seems to make all the difference in life for me. If I go to bed earlier, I’m more likely to get up earlier and exercise, I eat healthier, I’m more productive during the day, and just generally happier.
"Tiredness to me is combined with stress. If I’m feeling that overall tiredness versus sleepiness, it usually means I’m stressed (even if I can’t immediately identify the stress). It can also mean I just need a little break or even a '1-hour vacation,' where I break up the routine by doing something different or something enjoyable that I haven’t done in a while."
I think Christie may be on to something here. I also find that getting to bed earlier helps with my sleepiness, but not necessarily with tiredness. Maybe stress is the key to the latter. What do you think?
Another reader, Clark, sent me an email that followed a similar line of reasoning, emphasizing the connection between tired feelings and a person's physical condition.
"It has been my experience that I am most tired when I am most overweight," Clark wrote. "Well no wonder, when each pound of fat means anywhere from one to 70 more miles of blood vessels for my heart to pump blood through every minute of every day, working, resting or sleeping. And every muscle in my body must work that much harder moving me when I am carrying all those extra pounds. Lose weight, feel rested, has been my experience."
That's good advice, Clark. I've been trying to shed a few pounds, although I definitely could do more.
Rich wrote in an email that he is hoping to simplify his life in general as he seeks a more rested life.
"I have decided that I need to improve my physical condition, so that means setting aside an extra 60 minutes per day to travel to and from the gym and work out," he wrote. "I do feel physically better but have an even larger deficit of things to catch up on at home and even at work.
"My hope is that my wife gets a new job, which will allow us to move and downsize our home. ... As I told her, we have been on a parallel career path for years, and she is a better candidate for moving up. I'll happily move down a level or two and try and pick up more of the tasks at home and enjoy life a little more."
I hope that big-picture attempt works, Rich. Keep me posted.
Another reader, Pam, wrote in an email that, like me, she always feels like there is more to do. However, unlike me, she is a 59-year-old mother of four, grandmother of "almost 7," college student who will graduate in April and teaching assistant at an elementary school.
I'm exhausted just reading that!
Pam goes on to write that she has realized that the parenting cycle is just that: a cycle.
"Since our children range in age from 21-34, and they are spread out, we never really took the soccer and football chairs and blankets out of the trunk," Pam wrote. "The dance and drama recitals are with grandchildren now instead of our own, and Sunday dinners are very large, fun and crazy.
"I was just talking to my son ... and I read to him the part of your article about your wife saying that peace might come when the last one goes out the door! He just chuckled at that and said, 'Your house is definitely busier than it was when we all lived at home!' So that is the truth, like your wife said, BUCK UP, it only gets busier even after the last one leaves!"
Pam wrote that she enjoys having family close and spending time with them, even if it is chaotic sometimes.
"So I, like you and others, will still need to find the time to slow down and relax," she wrote. "I just had this conversation with some friends last weekend at a getaway, that we almost have to learn to relax, instead of filling every moment with getting things done that we didn't have time to do at home! It is a process, and I am interested to see what others say, until then we just try to keep up!"
It definitely is a process, Pam, and the advice and ideas I've received so far have given me plenty of food for thought. I'd like to hear from others, too. How do you tackle your tiredness?
Let me know, and I'll revisit this issue again in a future column.