Not only is it ok to be tired, but it’s also normal. That’s right, you’re supposed to get tired after you do an activity. Sure, you’re not supposed to feel like you’ve run a half marathon after emptying the dishwasher, but the activities that fill our dailies lives drain our energy well, and we recharge that well by sleeping.
Yet, when I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I spent a large part of my time trying to conserve my energy. Now that I look back on it I suspect that I spent too much time trying to conserve my energy. So much so that I would often find that when the day came to an end I hadn’t actually done anything.
You might be thinking this is a good thing, I know I thought like that for a long time. But it’s not, because there’s a down side to that type of energy management, and that’s not being able to sleep.
I got so good at conserving my energy that I could go through a whole day without feeling tired. But not feeling tired meant that when it came time to go to bed I wasn’t tired. I’d lie in bed tossing and turning, staring at the ceiling, wondering why I couldn’t go to sleep. The answer should have been obvious, but I was so distracted by not being healthy that I couldn’t see it. If I didn’t do anything during the day to make myself tired, why would my body want to go to sleep so that it could recharge itself?
I’ve talked about sleep before, but it only occurred to me the other day there was another part that helped me to regain control of my sleep, and that was when I did my exercise.
As part of my time at the Fatigue Unit at UNSW, I was required to engage in a graded exercise program. I used to do my exercise in the afternoon, around 4:30pm. I’d be pretty tired at the end of it, and I wouldn’t often be great company for dinner, but I can tell you this, I was tired when it came time to go to bed. That, in conjunction with controlling my sleep times, helped me to be ready for sleep at the end of the day.
Looking back I realise that, without thinking about it, I used to leave the start of my days activity free, so that I wouldn’t wear myself out too early, and loaded the end of my day with activity so that I would be tired and ready for sleep.
I know when I’ve had a busy day now, because I’m tired at the end of it, and I can tell you that sleep comes easily on those days. I know that’s normal behaviour because I used to feel like that before I had CFS, and that’s always been my baseline. If I could do something or I felt a particular way before being diagnosed with CFS it was normal for me be/feel like that now.
So I ask you this, are you like me, are you really good at not getting tired? Because being tired at the right time of day might not be a bad thing.