Sleep Deprived: The Plight of the Young Professional

Posted by Wednesday, September 10, 2014 0 4

I know I haven’t written in a while, and I apologize for that. But also, I don’t. The reason behind that being twofold: 1) I started work last Tuesday and I’ve kinda been busy with the whole new job, 9:00-6:00, daily grind thing 2) I’m exhausted and sleep deprived.

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I was this tired. But this is, as several grown-ups who I have lovingly mocked me when I have told them of this recent plight of mine, the norm for an adult. And will be the norm for the next 40 working years I have ahead of me (35 if Ethan and I start saving for retirement like, yesterday).

Exhaustion comes with the territory. And there are many things (tiny and cute, but loud things) going forward that lead to even more exhaustion in an adult’s life. But the problem for me right now is that, as unsympathetic as my older counterparts may be about this new problem of mine, I can’t keep going like this.

I get home by 6:30 p.m. every day and I just want to go to bed right then. I can’t even explain why, because it’s not like my job requires manual labor.

I sit at my desk the majority of the day, when I’m not power walking quickly around the office (Something I do that was pointed out to me on my second day, when I was stopped by a superior as I was rushing passed their office and they asked me where I was going in such a hurry, and started laughing when I said, “Down the hall.”)

I’m so tired. But I do not believe I am dying or have contracted some sort of illness. No, I’m pretty sure it is just the amount of brain power I am expelling at work and the ball of energy that is me, that I put into basically everything I do. That is why I feel dead at the end of the day.

But the problem I’m having is, though I want to pass out when I get home, and attest to this fact multiple times while preparing and then eating dinner, after about an hour and half of being home I get a second wind.

And that second wind will carry me through four chapters of my current book, six episodes of my current show on Netflix, an hour of spending time with/bothering my law student boyfriend when he has a break from studying, and thirty minutes working on our fantasy football team line-up.

And by that point, it’s well after midnight and I curse myself knowing I will have to be up in six hours. Then I wonder how I made it this long after getting home exhausted, swearing I would go to sleep the minute I had food in my stomach, without collapsing.

Now, obviously I shouldn’t be going to bed at 8:00 p.m., as that would be way too much sleep. But with doctors saying we need 7-9 hours a night, and Americans averaging 6.8, I’m right in that unhealthy range. So that’s nice.

I am willing to bet you other young, but hard-working grown-ups out there suffer from this same self-inflicted problem. So let’s try to dissect why. To the experts!

“I see more people trying to cram more into a 24-hour day more aggressively than they did 20 to 25 years ago,” said Helene A. Emsellem, MD, medical director of the Center for Sleep & Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Md., and a clinical professor of neurology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. “There is a huge increase in people carrying two jobs, working more hours, and more focus on trying to find time to exercise.”

“I see people sleep-deprived because they got up early to exercise,” Dr. Emsellem said.

Everyday Health

That last one I haven’t actually done, because I don’t have the discipline to work out any other time than when I’ve been fully awake for several hours on the weekend. But Ethan got up to exercise before class just this morning and, though you think that would be a good thing for your overall health, it isn’t for your sleep.

The thing I can’t really reconcile in my brain is how this is any different from the sleep deprivation I had in college. I know I did not sleep that much in college. I really didn’t. I had the weirdest sleep schedule, because every day of the week had a different class schedule; the weekends gave you more time to sleep in and the opportunity to stay up later; and then exams, which would inevitably lead to a complete change in your sleep schedule that would last for several weeks after the semester was over.

But I think that was because we weren’t doing work all day every day. We had breaks, we spaced things out, and we may have skipped a class or two… It was a different life, with different demands and different effects on our sleep.

So what can we do to remedy this new grown-up problem I have now laid out in full? Take our own advice. That’s right, I wrote an article about how to sleep better a few months back and haven’t taken my own advice. But I am going to start putting it all into practice now. Promise. And if you are having the same problem as me I suggest you give it a go as well.

Sweet dreams.

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