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Push Through Fatigue or Sleep In – Will You Make the Wrong Choice?

Should you push through fatigue or sleep in?  Chances are, you are making the wrong choice.  Fatigue can feel overwhelming as is, so the last thing you want to do is make a choice that keeps you spiraling down the path of low energy.  Too many times I have heard, just push through fatigue.  But did pushing through fatigue ever actually help the fatigue?  Let’s take a deeper look.

Push Through Fatigue and Just Get it Done

I do admire a “go-getter” attitude, but sometimes it can get us in trouble.  We tend to throw caution to the wind for the purpose of achieving an end goal or being able to check off items on our “to-do” list.  While this helps us feel better about what we accomplish, it does not do much for fatigue.  In fact, over time, this approach is typically making fatigue worse.

Approach your want to get things done like a bank account.  If you only take from the account and never replenish the funds in it, you end up with no monetary reserves, and likely in debt.  If you only take from your body’s energy account and don’t give back to it, this is called energy debt.  Energy debt is the result of not getting the right nutrients in to produce energy while also not allowing the body the opportunity to recover each day.

There has to be a better way.

When to Feel Guilty, but Mostly When Not To

Why do you push through fatigue?  Is it the guilt of not feeling like you got things you needed to done.  If you always put your to-do list ahead of your needs, your needs will always be on your to-do list.  Remember this next time you start to feel guilt manifest.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you have to lay in bed and be lazy.  Don’t misunderstand.  Actually, if you are reading this article, that is not your personality in the first place and not something you would actually do.

The guilt you should feel when you start to push through fatigue is not that you need to do something.  Rather, your guilt should arise when you are pushing your body beyond what it can currently handle.  How much can it handle?  It is different for everyone and there is not simple answer.  However, in general, if you are questioning whether you should give your body a break, chances are you absolutely should.

Sleeping In – Not Always the Best Answer   

Get 8 hours of sleep.  All of us have heard this since we were kids.  What is wrong with this recommendation?  Ironic how such a commonly held belief about sleep could be so wrong.  Focusing on the amount of sleep that one gets ignores the timing of the sleep.  So as not to confuse words, I want to differentiate timing and quantity of sleep.  The notion of getting 8 hours of sleep is pretty much right, although it appears some can do just fine with less and some need more.  The more important factor is timing.  Timing trumps quantity of sleep in most circumstances.

Let me give you an example to make the point.  One person sleeps from 9pm to 5am each night.  Person two sleeps from 1am to 9am each night.  Person two is likely to feel the need to push through fatigue over time even though they are getting 8 hours of sleep.  What’s different?  The timing is different.  Sleeping from 9pm to 5am (8 hours) is sleeping within your body’s normal rhythm which is based on day light and sun exposure.  Person two sleeping in opposition to the normal light cycle will find themselves struggling against their body’s natural rhythm, which is where recovery and energy production are most efficient.

Are You Making the Right Choice?

I have tried to bring to light that there is no simple answer.  There comes a time when it is right to push through fatigue.  Doing it repetitively though is setting you up for failure.  In comparison, sleeping helps recover from fatigue.  However, if you are going to bed and waking up late, your efforts to use sleep as a recovery tool are wasted.  Finding balance is where most fail.  They never find it.  I think it simply comes down to this.  Push your body the right amount and give it the opportunity to recovery with quality sleep at the right time.  That is the right choice.

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