I don't know if I can describe my situation well enough to make sense, and I don't know if my question is one that can be easily answered, but I figure it's worth a shot....
When I'm at work, I gradually get this uncomfortable sensation in my body that builds throughout the day. How does it feel? It's kind of hard to describe, but it feels like being sleepy and yet very stiff and antsy at the same time. I start to blink more often, I feel tired, I have a hard time concentrating. My eyes seem to focus more lazily. At the same time, my muscles start to feel kind of tense and stiff and a bit achey, and I develop a strong desire to move
. At times I feel I want to go sprint around the block, or do 10,000 jumping jacks, or lots of stretches or something. Staying in one place feels really uncomfortable. By the time I go home, I'm not sure if I want to take a nap or hit the treadmill. Possibly both.
I don't feel this way every single day, but I often do. Probably 3 days out of 5. The odd thing is though, the sensation usually fades within a couple hours of leaving work, or at least the physical part of it does. After going home and relaxing for a bit, or exercising, or whatever, I often feel a lot better.
I work as a computer programmer, so I'm at a desk most of the time I'm in the office. Is this sort of experience normal for desk jockeys? I don't know. It could be something specific to my office environment, but I changed jobs just over 2 years ago and I felt the same way in both my new job and my old one. My job is not especially stressful and the office environment is not a tense one. One thing that occurred to me is that it might just be a physical response to boredom.
Much of my work can be boring and tedious, at least at times. And I have noticed that some days I feel I'm really "in the zone" and I don't feel the stiff/tired sensation. I'm not sure which is the cause and which is the effect though. Did being "in the zone" and engrossed in my work prevent the stiff/tired feeling? Or is it because I don't feel stiff and tired that I was able to get "in the zone"? I'm not sure.
Some things I've tried to alleviate the issue:
- Getting up and walking around at work - I'm not afraid to get up and go for a stroll. I feel I do this pretty much as often as I can without people thinking that I'm avoiding work. I think it helps a little, but it doesn't really solve the problem.
- Getting a new monitor - I've switched my monitor and the lighting in the office to try to reduce eyestrain. This has helped alleviate headaches, but hasn't made much difference in the issue I'm asking about here.
- Improving the ergonomics of my office furniture - I sprung for a comfortable chair, and I've adjusted the height of my
keyboard/monitor/desk numerous times. It hasn't helped with this particular issue.
- Trying to get more sleep - On days where I've slept really well and perhaps right after I come back from vacation, the stiff/tired feeling seems to take longer to take hold, but it still shows up sooner or later.
- Listening to music while I work - No discernable difference
- Caffeine, ibuprofin, allergy meds - Drinking more caffeine doesn't help. I haven't tried completely eliminating it, I pretty much always have at least 1 cup of coffee every day. Ibuprofin doesn't make the achey stiffness in my muscles go away. When I've taken alergy meds on the days when allergies make my eyes water and burn, it's helped with the allergies but not with the other issue.
Some things I'm considering but haven't done or looked into yet:
- Finding a gym near my office and working out during lunch
- Asking my boss about getting a standing desk
- Could it be the florescent lighting? Both my current office and my previous one had similar lights - the tube-like florescent ones. The lights I have at home are different. But I'm not aware of having any problems when visiting other buildings with florescent lights.
I should also mention that at times I do things other than work that involve sitting in one place for long periods - attending a conference for example - and I don't usually feel the same way. I do feel a bit stiff after sitting for 3-4 hours in any situation, but it's nothing like the itch to move and/or sleep that I get at work.
I have had a complete physical exam recently and am in pretty good physical health. No major problems that I or my doctor are aware of. I am not an especially active person, but I do work out (weights/treadmill) 3 times a week or so.
Not really sure what else I can say.... It's certainly not a crippling problem. I'm still productive at work and I think my superiors are pleased with my output. I've pretty much just been toughing it out. I just feel like work would be so much more enjoyable, and I would have so much more energy for doing things when I get home from work, if I could make this annoying fatigue and restlessness go away.
Does anyone have any suggestions? In case this gets into medical territory, let me say that I know you are not my doctor and I will not take any answer given here as medical advance.