How To Feel Rested
You work hard. But you expect to put in long hours. That is what it takes to get to the top, and you are prepared to stay in the office, to remain in your office’s virtual chat forum, and to go on receiving and answering emails into the wee hours of the night to advance in your career.
However, the few precious hours of sleep you do get should refresh you. Nothing less than rejuvenation and renewal should be yours when you awake in the morning. If this is not the case, if you do not feel at all rested even after a solid block of sleeping, you are not alone.
The failure to feel rested is a common problem among working professionals. It is partly the result of the times we live in. The line between office and home life has been obliterated. We bring our work home—or work from home—and our home life to work. The balancing of professional and private lives is an outdated metaphor. The two have become one. This has made it impossible to stop thinking about the problems, difficulties, challenges, and tasks of either of them. Indeed, both are usually thought of and worked through all day, every day.
The constant and unrelenting busyness of our lives makes anxiety the great condition of the age, and anxiety is the greatest enemy of rest. Although there is little you can do to reduce the daily strain, there are some steps you can take to feel more rested.
1. Try reducing your caffeine intake. I know. It’s hard. Demanding days require alertness. Coffee helps to keep you awake and on point. However, the effects last well into the evening. Two or three large cups of coffee will keep your nerves on edge. Your mind and muscles will be unable to relax. Even if you dose off, it will be a fitful sleep that follows. Try substituting tea for coffee. It can be just as stimulating but contains far less caffeine.
2. Fuck—this is perhaps the most potent weapon against sleeplessness. Sex as a sleeping technique has little to do with muscle relaxation. It’s all chemical. Having sex releases endorphins and makes you feel better about yourself. Such a peaceful state of mind will help you drift off into a sound and restful sleep.
3. Keep smart phones, iPads, and other gadgets out of bed. Using one of these as an alarm clock is fine. But if you are checking social media and sending emails in bed, then you will decrease your chances of feeling rested in the morning.
4. Avoid heavy drinking. Alcohol is a depressant. Drinking large amounts of it, as you well know, will eventually put you to sleep. However, it is not the kind of sleep that leads to a feeling of restfulness. Even if you do not wake up with a hangover, you will, after a night of heavy boozing, feel sluggish and lethargic.
5. Finally, cultivate an intellectual life. Commit yourself to reading books of literature, history, or popular science every day. An hour or so of this kind of reading will take your mind off the scattered distractions of everyday life. It will engage your imagination and set off trains of thought about the world at large. This break from worrying over the immediate will give you pleasure and satisfaction, which will in turn help you relax before going to bed. Listening to music and visiting the theater and art museums will produce a similar effect.
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About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.