Powering through without the power nap
January 30, 2012 10:59 AM   Subscribe

How to rest (in the afternoon, after work) without napping?

I come home from my office job (which I like, btw) mentally exhausted and too tired to do anything. Anything = reading a book, working on my hobbies, watching a movie, reading a newspaper, not to mention anything physical like doing chores or exercising. It all seems like. So. Much. Work.

Usually I come home, eat dinner and then browse the internet, until I get a second wind an hour or two later. I then get on with the rest of my planned and unplanned activities.

This leads to me doing stuff way too late in the evening and getting to bed later than would be good for me. I then have problems getting up in the morning and feel even worse the next day. Thus the cycle continues, until the weekend, when a couple of hours of extra sleep and no job to do work wonders for my energy levels.

I would like to shorten this 2-hour period of "battery charging" or at least do something more worthwhile than clicking all over Imgur.

If I do the oldest trick in the book and take a nap, I'm not sleepy in the evening, so I go to bed late and the problem continues. I've tried anything from a 15min nap to 2 hours, same thing. I've tried meditating but I don't think I'm cut out for it (could never do more than 10min).

So, MeFites, what would you recommend to get back to normal after a day at the office? What works for you?

Additional data: I am otherwise reasonably healthy & happy, exercise regularly but not too strenuously (a "light" version of crossfit 2x/week), eat home-cooked food which my Grandma would recognize, and take a multivitamin almost-daily.
posted by gakiko to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Sit back in a comfortable chair and listen to an audiobook that you don't have to pay much attention to or ideally, you have read before a long time ago but vaguely remember. Or make dinner and listen to the audiobook.

I do the same thing pretty much. I kind of putter around for a few hours then stay up too late. If I nap, I'll not go to bed early. If I wait until 10-11pm to start actually having a night, I'll probably stay up too late.

Now I just make dinner and listen to an audiobook while I do it. After that I feel pretty much refreshed.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:12 AM on January 30, 2012

You say you are mentally tired, but not physically tired, correct?

And resting too much (2 hours) makes you not tired in the evening?

So, you need to do something that gets you energized, gets you going, and wakes you up?

Why not work out in the afternoon? You need something that's not intense (Crossfit is too much and will leave you exhausted). You need something to get your heart pumping, blood circulating, and endorphins flowing! Try something like running a few miles at an easy pace, riding your bike, or even walking the dog.
posted by I am the Walrus at 11:26 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about a 30-45 minute active yoga session after work?

My gym offers a yoga stretch and strength class that I find not strenuous, but just enough so that afterward, I've let go of the work stress from that day and I'm able to get on with my evening activities.
posted by sillymama at 11:38 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by leigh1 at 11:41 AM on January 30, 2012

how far do you live from your job? how tied down are you to where you are living now? can you move closer to work? I read recently that the absolute worst thing you can do to your happiness is add a long commute (with shorter and shorter commutes yeilding more and more general life satisfaction)...for precisely the reason that you come home stressed out, tired, cranky, etc, and have to wake up earlier than is healthy in order to do it again first thing in the morning. Srsly, long commutes to work= #1 reason people are unhappy with their lives.
also, eat lunch later in the day (maybe a snack on the way home too?), anything to push your dinnertime to later in the evening...i.e. do all the 'stuff' first, then do the eat/digest/relax part (it's the middle one that saps your energy for an hour)
also, right when you get home, give yourself SOME time to unwind...without looking at any information!...take a walk around the block, walk to the corner store for a snack. 15 minutes, tops.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:46 AM on January 30, 2012

For me, it has to do with lighting.

In the office all day, it's all overhead fluorescents and monitor glow inches from your face. So, after I come in and eat my dinner, I darken the room a bit and allow myself 30mins to do *anything* - music, audio book, zoning out, listening to the rain, hoovering, getting lunch ready for tomorrow. I don't nap though, never got the hang of those things.

After the half hour of quietness, I flip on all the lights again, do a few jumping jacks and dive right into the nearest hobby, continuing my evening as usual.

Also, green tea with dinner eases me into the evening, rather than coffee or wine, etc.
posted by Chorus at 12:07 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Take a bath, or a shower. Wash your hair with nice smelling shampoo.
Towel dry your hair, leaving it to dry naturally.
Get yourself spa socks and plush bath robe.
Make yourself a big cup of white or green tea / tisane (try elderflower!)
Curl up under the blanket and unwind, read a magazine, nap, listen to some music...
posted by leigh1 at 12:56 PM on January 30, 2012

Napping is usually disastrous for me, too. Something what works for me is to lie down on my bed, not under the covers, with a light on. Make myself as comfortable and cozy as I can, settle in as if I'm going to take a nap, relax completely, eyes closed and then stay awake. Any time I feel myself starting to drift off, I wake myself up. It's kind of like reverse meditation or the counting tricks you can use yourself to fall asleep. There, you are trying to empty your mind, or lull yourself to sleep, but when I'm un-napping, when I start to drift I'll tell myself something like "I'm not going to go to sleep. What's going on around me? Oh, I can hear cars going by on the road and the neighbour unlocking her front door. There the annoying theme song to Spongebob..." etc.

I'll do that for 20 minutes or so, then get up, usually refreshed. I'll set an alarm for 30 minutes, just in case I nod off. Any longer than that and I will just give in and sleep for a couple hours, then feel like hell. I don't know how to explain it but there's something about staying relaxed and alert that perks me up.

FWIW, I'm a terrible insomniac and I have a similar pattern, whether I'm working or not. I run out of steam around 7:30-8 and kind of plod through whatever I have to do, then get a burst of energy around 10 that carries me through 'til 2ish. Which leaves me exhausted the next morning. All the professional types I've talked to advise going to bed before that burst of energy hits. You know, going to bed when you're sleepy even though it's a sucky early dumb time to go to sleep. They claim over time I'll have energy in the evenings and then be tired at around 10 and be able to sleep at 11. It's not a theory I have ever managed to test, however, but you may want to investigate it.
posted by looli at 1:39 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is a cure all recommendation, but a walk with a podcast or audiobook is nice. Particularly where I am this time of year it's nice to walk after work because I see the sunset and that puts me in night mode.
posted by raccoon409 at 5:33 PM on January 30, 2012

Meditate, or go for a nice long walk or swim.
posted by ead at 10:58 PM on January 30, 2012

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