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Still Tired After A Vacation? This Is Probably Why

Still Tired After A Vacation? This Is Probably Why

When you hear the word “vacation”, what comes to mind? For most it means having fun, indulging or pampering themselves to some degree or simply relaxing and catching up on sleep. Most people consider it a time to unwind and recharge away from work and the stresses of life.

However, the reality for some is that they end up feeling even more stressed and exhausted than they did before they went on vacation. Now, how is this possible?

Vacationing the Wrong Way

A common misconception that people have with going on vacation is that they need to make the most out of their trip. They go on every tour they can squeeze in or research 101 places to visit while at their destination and then pack 98 of those suggestions in their itinerary. While making the most of your time away–especially when visiting exotic locations is important, most people over-pack their schedule and overwhelm themselves with busyness which results in more stress and less rest.

In today’s overexposed social media and ultra tech-culture, it is even easier to forget the true meaning of the word “vacation.” Technology and social media has over-promoted and normalized sharing every experience we have–especially while on vacation. The saying, “if you didn’t post about it, did it really happen?” drives our current culture to document and share EVERYTHING.

You Instagram all your meals, snap chat every moment of your time on every tour and check into every “it” spot within 100 miles so you have plenty to post on Facebook. In fact, you spend more time taking the perfect selfie at every stop than you do actually participating in the activity. You end up sacrificing the quality of the trip for the quantity of posts you get out of.

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This flawed “vacation” mindset results in:

Packing too many activities into the trip

You have been wanting to visit Italy for the longest time and you have 2 weeks. You want to make the most out of your trip so you squeeze in every activity (that you have researched on blogs and travel sites) you possibly can. Your vacation days begin early in the morning and ends in the wee hours of the morning. So, you wake up early, go to sleep late and are walking or running around the entire day… And you wonder your body is physically exhausted?

Booking oddly timed flights

In order to maximize your time off of work, you book the first flight out which leaves at the crack of dawn and catch the very the last flight home, with only a couple hours to spare before heading to work the next day. You return to work an exhausted, frazzled and unproductive mess.

Failing to disconnect

During your vacation, you were constantly checking and responding to work emails or completing tasks. Not only are you ruining your vacation because you are not fully present and living in the moment but you are perpetuating the stress you were trying to escape!

The same is true if you spend copious amounts of time snap chatting, Facebooking or Instgramming–updating and showing off for all of your friends and followers– you, again, miss so many beautiful moments.

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Picking the wrong kind of vacation

If you intentionally want to take a break to relax and recharge, then you should pick a place or an activity that does not require intense energy physically (such as hiking to Mount Everest Base Camp) or is mentally draining to plan which counteracts the unwinding process.

Instead, do something that you enjoy or travel to a destination that is tranquil and has minimal distractions.

Vacationing the right way

Learning to appreciate that vacation or holiday time is a chance to unwind and that you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed with planning and trying to create the perfect vacation is the first key to having fun while still being refreshed.

It’s a great idea to enjoy the recommended hot spots, attractions, restaurants and activities, but understand and accept that there will be more activities than you have time for–don’t try to do it all.

Plan a vacation that provides you to be flexible. Eliminating the pressure of having to do it all will leave you feeling refreshed and motivated when it comes time to head back to work.

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Keeping in mind the following will help you to better appreciate your vacation time:

Come home a day early

It’s always a good idea to give yourself one day to recoup before returning to work after a vacation. This allows your body and mind to adjust to being back home and get back into the groove of your work routine. Coming home at least a day before going back to work also allows you to settle in, unpack and do some catching up with work–checking emails–before going back into the office. This gives you room to breathe and reduces the anxiety and stress associated with the impending workload.

Take your time

The purpose of a vacation is to relax and enjoy yourself. So when you finally get to take that trip you’ve been looking forward to, take your time and work to be completely present during every experience. Accept the fact that there will always be more to see and do than you can possibly fit in your vacation. Relax and have fun.

Get Enough Sleep

Again, you want to go on vacation to recharge, so don’t over-crowd your schedule with late night and early morning activities. Make sure you rest and get plenty of sleep. It’s okay to schedule a lazy day during your vacation where you can sleep in and not be bound to an itinerary.

Don’t be too lazy

Just as it is critical to relax, your body also needs some activity to help you fight stress and to feel awake and alive. So don’t overdo it with the sleep and relaxing. Try to fit in the minimum recommended amount of daily exercise and if you don’t exercise take this as an opportunity to start a new habit. Start slow. This goes for sleeping, as well. Get the right amount of sleep for your body. Some people need eight or more hours of sleep per night, however, whatever is typical for you and leaves you feeling refreshed is the right amount of sleep for you. Too much sleep can actually backfire and leave you feeling lethargic, and foggy. As with everything, balance is key.

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Relax and hang loose!

Everyone deserves a vacation or break every now and then to escape the day-to-day grind. It is crucial to ensure that the vacation you take does indeed serve its purpose of letting you feel relaxed and recharged again.

When you feel refreshed and motivated to head back to work, you can perform better and look forward to the next vacation!

Featured photo credit: Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Published on January 23, 2020

How Many Hours of Sleep Do I Need? (What the Science Says)

How Many Hours of Sleep Do I Need? (What the Science Says)

“How many hours of sleep do I need?” This is a commonly asked question.

The subject of sleep and how much of it one needs has been controversial over the last ten years, especially in this digital-obsessed era we’re living in. You might be surprised by what science is now saying about how many hours of sleep you need. However, I’d like to mention, it’s easy not to get enough sleep, especially if our sleep patterns are wacky or out of sorts.

Without a healthy sleep routine, it’s nearly impossible to get those needed hours. I know this because I struggled with insomnia for almost a year. After I evaluated the way I was spending my evenings, I realized that I was only getting five or six hours of sleep, not even. Science says that if you want to wake up revitalized and refreshed, you must focus on how much shut-eye time you’re actually getting.

Understanding Your Circadian Rhythm and Why You Should

The National Sleep Foundation describes the circadian rhythm as:[1]

“the body’s internal clock that cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.”

Essentially, the clock is in your brain and thrives on a regular sleep pattern. So, if you’re someone who stays up throughout the night, you’re setting yourself up to feel lousy or rundown at certain times the next day.

If you typically have a dip in energy levels in the afternoon, that’s a sign that your circadian rhythm is off. This would explain why at 2:00 or 3:00 P.M., you feel the dreaded down slump and need a caffeine booster. It’s your brain begging you to regulate your sleep pattern (not go out and get more coffee to stay alert).

Once the sun goes down and gets dark outside, our brains, the pineal gland to be specific, begins producing and secreting melatonin. Light exposure, such as from our phones, interrupts this process. Thus, the interruption comes with a consequence. The longer we prolong or intervene in our brain’s natural abilities to prepare us for sleep, the longer our dip in energy during the day lasts. It’s worth it to pay attention to these spurts of energy changes and why they’re occurring.

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Deep Sleep is essential to health and well-being. That’s when your muscles repair, your body replenishes and revitalizes your immune system, keeping it afloat. But we need enough deep sleep. Ensuring that you get the appropriate amount of sleep is essential if you want to prevent illness and maintain wellness.

The Consequences of Limited Hours of Sleep

There are people out there who think that it’s okay to get only five or six hours of sleep or less. Someone actually said to me, “I’m great on six hours; you sleep plenty when you’re dead.”

The thing is, people believe six hours is enough and it’s not. Lack of shut-eye time leads to numerous consequences.

When I dealt with insomnia, I developed some symptoms which I noticed after just two nights of lost hours of sleep. I experienced hair loss, muscle tightness, and my sinuses would swell the skin around my eyes and cheekbones. Others noticed these ailments and overtime they can become chronic issues. Your risk of heart disease will radically increase.

Additionally, I found myself losing energy as early as 12:00 noon and having spurts of energy at different times of the day. Those spurts of energy only lasted under an hour. And those dips would come, and I’d be in the middle of work yearning for a long nap (I abused naps, by the way, and snoozed too long).

Consequently, the naps or lengthy siestas muddled my sleep pattern. You don’t want to nap for too long, though a fifteen-minute nap is quite rejuvenating.

As I stated earlier, our brains thrive on patterns, mostly sleep patterns or a regimen. It is something I now take seriously–having a regimen and hygiene schedule that sets me up for a smooth next day.

How to Develop a Healthy Sleep Regimen

Sleep regimens promote good, strong health. The amount of time you spend planning your days, you should spend the same amount of time preparing for bedtime.

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No matter how busy my schedule becomes, I make the effort to wind down after I’ve had my dinner. Come 7:00 P.M., I’m doing something meditative or meditating. Yoga is another activity I do in the evening. It’s so calming and relaxing.

Since sleep is something that can easily become a problem for me, I try to make the effort to prevent insomnia from rearing its ugly head. We creatives though, can be insomniacs at times. Regardless if you have health problems or not, a bad sleep regimen will very quickly cost your physical and emotional health and in not much time.

By engaging in meditative activities or simply spending an hour doing Yoga is the best way to quiet busy thoughts and ease into the next chapter of your day or night.

Some other things I do in the evening is painting, cleaning or organizing; projects that I don’t get to do during my workday. I like to put my brain to work for at least a half-hour with the goal of tiring me out. I don’t recommend doing overly stimulating things such as sitting on social media or staring at your phone’s screen for too long.

For me, it can be a mental fight to put that darn cell phone down and rest my eyes. Our brains easily mistake the blue light on our screens for sunlight and will confuse the process of secreting melatonin or serotonin. At sundown, our brains are the first to prepare for sleep but how we conduct our lifestyle should be a priority. You must allow a window, maybe an hour in the evening, to decompress and relax.

How To Regulate Your Sleep Schedule

To overcome insomnia or sleep disturbances I had, I focused on maintaining a sleep schedule. Between 10:00 P.M. and 7:00 A.M. is a healthy regulatory sleep pattern. I am an early bird usually and like to rise at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning.

I find myself going to bed some nights at 9:30-10:00 P.M. and rising at 6:30 A.M. and I feel very refreshed on that schedule. And, I have energy all throughout the day and don’t want to take naps once the 2 or 3 P.M. afternoon arrives. A regular sleep patterns lessens the intensity of those down slump episodes or eliminates them all together.

The energy dips I used to battle with have gone away. On a solid number of hours of sleep, our energy levels don’t fluctuate so much or as drastically.

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I know my circadian rhythm is fully tuned when I wake up in the morning with no alarm. That’s right. I don’t like greeting a morning with an alarm my brain might mistake for a fire truck siren. In fact, science now says alarms are not good for our mental or emotional health.

Why Alarms Are Unhealthy and What to Do If You Need One

A sleep cycle typically lasts ninety minutes. Alarms, if they go off too soon while you’re still in this sleep cycle, can disrupt a natural process which will determine how awake and refreshed you’ll feel upon rising. The price of this is bigger than you may realize.

Interrupting a sleep cycle can leave you feeling groggy all day or as if you’d spent the previous night partying until 4:00 in the morning. I call this a ‘sleep hangover.’

Needless to say, sleep hangovers are unpleasant. It will take your brain and energy levels loads of time to sync up and become regular again. I blamed my issues with fatigue on the alarm, and rightfully so.

These days, I rise naturally and doing so has reduced my fatigue and brain fog. Some mornings, if I have a lot on my plate, I may set an alarm by choosing soft music or positive affirmations. You don’t need to open your eyes to the sound of a voice telling you that you’re awesome, but why not?

If you desperately need an alarm and don’t trust yourself without a wake-up call of some kind, get one that maybe plays soothing music or repeats a meditative mantra of your choosing. Apps on your phone can do this.

If you’re prone to insomnia, I wouldn’t recommend sleeping near an electronic device. Instead, put your phone at the opposite end of your room. That way, when it goes off, you’ll be forced to get out of bed.

How Many Hours of Sleep Should You Get?

The hours of sleep you should get depends on you. Six or seven is no longer enough, and science is now saying to get at least eight or nine. On nine hours, your brain has successfully processed all the sleep cycles necessary for optimal cognitive functioning.

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You must hit all the stages so you don’t feel like a walking zombie the next day. If you’re not with the program, people will notice and lack of sleep can result in declining performance at work.

Lack of sleep also affects how sharp and quick your mind responds to situations in every setting of your life. Memory is also one of those things. In just about every career, we rely on our memory. And let’s be real. A lot of the time, life is a test of how good we are at remembering details of things. The next time you find yourself saying, “It’s all right if I work really late tonight and wake up early the next morning.”

No matter how much you think you’ve got it all together on five or six hours of sleep, keep that up and you’ll find yourself having a lot of costly oopsies throughout your day.

Burnout is more detrimental to your health, career, and overall life than you may realize until something irreversible occurs. You don’t want it to reach that point when you’ve done something you can’t take back because you were exhausted or wiped out.

Bottom Line

Nine hours of sleep is what you should strive for. However, I know how life can interfere. A solid night of sleep can help you manage any stresses life can or maybe is throwing at you.

If you’re anything like me and your mind is constantly buzzing with one thing to the next, create an effective sleep routine–one that promotes a peaceful night of sleep.

And if you’re someone who has to use their cell phone during the night, turn off the blue light and dim that screen. But remember that those nine hours of sleep and the time you spend in the couple of hours beforehand will make or break tomorrow.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The national Sleep Foundation: What is Circadian Rhythm?

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