Who said that adults are supposed to get through the day without a nap? Who wrote the rule saying that once kindergarten was over we’re all expected to make it through the day in one shot?
In theory, if you actually got 8-9 hours of restful sleep in a night, you’d be able to do it. Sure, once in a while, when you’ve stayed out too late with friends, a quick snooze may be in order.
What does it mean, though, when, day in and day out, you hit a wall at 3:00, and you feel like you need – even occasionally let yourself take – a nap?
Consider these possibilities, and what to do about them. (Read them all, they may all apply to a certain extent…the juiciest one’s at the end.)
1. How’s your blood sugar?
Using coffee, chocolate and baked goods to get you through your day wreaks havoc with your hormone and glucose levels. Virtually every nutrition blog and healthy living book will expand on this idea. You know this!
2. Do you have postprandial leukocytosis?
When your immune system, and your energy, are directed to your belly after you eat.
Your body clock is set up so your digestive capacity is at its greatest at noon, so certain experts suggest you have your biggest meal then. True, but when said meal is all cooked food, when it’s hard-to-digest options – heavy on the red meat, all cooked and fried foods – your body will have an immune response as well.
Pre-diabetics have a similar problem when their blood sugar drops after a sugar- and starch-rich meal, called postprandial hypoglycaemia.
** Make sure your nutrient-dense lunch is high in protein, easy on fats and includes some raw vegetables for the enzymes and fibre. You want to be satisfied, with easily accessible nutrients to sustain you through the afternoon.
3. Food sensitivities
Are there certain foods that make you sleepy? Partly, the same idea as above, whereby your immune system reacts in a way that robs energy from your brain.
Allergic reactions (and sensitivities) aren’t limited to sneezing, hives and anaphylaxis. They also cause headaches, mood changes and fatigue.
It took me a while to realize how fresh grapes makes me overwhelmingly tired. I get an almost painful need to lie down and nap – often I do, even for 10 minutes. Red grapes are worse; not surprisingly, I have a hard time functioning fully the day after drinking red wine. Hummus and canned tuna have a similar effect on me.
** If you’re feeling sleepy every afternoon AND you eat the same lunch daily, change it completely for a week. Does that help?
** Reintroduce your usual items one at a time, over a few days, and observe to find the culprit.
4. You don’t get enough sleep.
a) You work or watch TV late, or get sucked into Facebook for too long, and it takes your brain a while to wind down.
** You’ve heard these solutions before: turn the screens off at least an hour before bed. Try the usual herbs like chamomile, valerian or oatstraw; meditate or journal to empty your mind.
Note: many experts also suggest exercise – be sure it’s gentle. Notice which types of movement relax you, which stimulate you, and choose accordingly.
b) You awake at 3 am and lie there with your mind spinning with worry.
** Talk to your healthcare practitioner about doing a gentle liver cleanse or getting some adrenal support. Even start by cutting out any alcohol in the evening – do you sleep better?
c) Maybe, for whatever reason, you can’t alter your evening routine to clock out for 8 hours.
** Schedule a nap during the day.
I heard on the radio this morning that there’s actually a nap competition – started (no surprise!) in Spain, where siestas are built into the day as a way of conserving energy during the high heat in the afternoon.
5. What part of your LIFE is dragging you down?
Stress is notorious for eating up your energy and messing with your blood sugar. I know, with so much going on, it’s to be expected. You’re wrung out, and you only have so many hours to get it all done, let alone take time for mindfulness, breathing and a weekly massage.
Yes, those items really need to be at the top of your to-do list, but I digress.
How much of your energy is being sucked away by the things you’re avoiding?
Do you ever notice how hard you have to work to resist making a dreaded phone call or email? Ever notice how light you feel once it’s done?
What about those worries that keep you awake at night? Do any of your whirling thoughts require an action? Would you feel safer if you just got that insurance policy updated? Would you sleep better after getting your son’s persistent belly aches addressed by an expert…other than Google?
What about how you’re feeling emotionally? How much of your precious energy are you shunting to keep your fear, anger, grief, etc. at bay?
Those emotions are big & scary, but they’re also meant to move. Keeping them locked up only pushes them deeper, where they’ll stagnate and cause more problems down the road.
LET THEM FLOW!
* put on music and dance, scream, cry them out
* write in a journal, talk to a friend or a professional
* take flower essences; gentle, yet powerful support for this type of healing
Don’t worry, they’re like waves – your emotions will peak then subside, if you let them.
Tapping into your body and noticing it feels, how it wants to be nourished, works wonders for your energy and sleep.
Feeling and expressing your emotions will enhance that nourishment and unleash your energy that much more.
What drains your energy, and how do you get back into the flow? When you share your insights in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.
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