Coping With Fatigue And Frustration

by Mémé


Twenty one months ago I took down my shingle for good. Rhett (and several of my children) were sure that after a few months I would go stir crazy and want to get back to work, or failing that descend into some twilight state on the recliner with HGTV on continuous loop.

I am happy to report that I am usually busy when awake. Sometimes it even feels like too busy.

Prior to retirement I never understood how people who had very hectic lives while working suddenly felt so busy when 30-50 hours per week were eliminated from the schedule. I now know the reason. Any time I put on shoes and venture off my own property, it counts as a half-day. Not in real time, but in psychic time. When I was working full time, if I took off a morning I crammed in grocery shopping, haircut, maybe a doctor’s appointment too. If I only had one of those things to do, it was an hour’s add-on to a full work day, perhaps time shifted a bit. No longer. The one- to one-and-half-hour errand is it for the morning or the afternoon. If I actually spend four hours on an activity, I often add late lunch or a short errand on the way home. That counts as a full day.

Of course the most precious regular activity is taking care of my grandchildren. It appears that what works best is for everyone is for me to be the go to sitter for those random but constant short time slots when mama can’t be in two places at once. We have arrived at the point where Nana is just one of the regular adults who might or might not be the one to show up at preschool pickup or meet the school bus. This is beyond price.

The one concern I have is sleep. Not that I don’t now have plenty of time to get it, but after years of running on fumes I was not expecting the degree to which I can’t really do well with the slightest unplanned deficit. It takes all of my adult self control and then some to keep my patience if a last minute grandma call, especially to watch all three kids, means that I have to get up two or three hours early.

Totebaggers, how do you cope with schedule disruptions, especially those that make you tired and strung out? Do you have any tips or restorative foods or back up plans that you go to when your fatigue and frustration makes likely an imminent explosion or serious error or words you can’t take back?


100 thoughts on “Coping With Fatigue And Frustration

  1. I do not have any tips, but as someone on the other end of this, also excited to hear any suggestions!

  2. My parents take naps in retirement. If they have been out all morning and had a late lunch, it is nap time for an hour or so. This doesn’t disrupt their sleep at night but makes up for any deficit. If they were watching grand kids who were at nap taking ages, they would put the kids down for a nap and take a nap themselves. The house would be silent. This helped everyone, the grandparents were not worn out and the kids were not over tired at the end of the day.

  3. I find starting my day with hot water and lemon helps tremendously. And yes, naps if you can. Everyone goes down for “turtle time” in the afternoon, even my 8 year old, if we all need a little rest or down time on the weekends.

  4. Totebaggers, how do you cope with schedule disruptions, especially those that make you tired and strung out?

    If you get a call at 5pm that you need to be up at 6am tomorrow, I’ve found these can be helpful in falling asleep earlier than you otherwise might:

  5. Unfortunately, I am not a napper. I’ve had a cold from which I recovered quickly, but have had ongoing fatigue for 2 weeks. It sucks.

    I have found that exercise does not make me more energetic directly, but does help me sleep better. Switching foods is not helpful for me, other than eliminating caffeine intake during the afternoon. When I’m really tired, it’s all about just getting through the day.

  6. Meme, you’ve described “retirement” business perfectly. I’m amazed that a trip to the dry cleaner can be a morning activity. Of course, my days of “retirement” are bookended by getting Junior to school in the morning and retrieving him in the afternoon, homework, scouts, etc. in the evening and the like. And because I am not a morning person, school day dawns around here are not pretty.

  7. My worst time was when my twins were little, one was colicky till midnight and one struggled to breathe, so I was up at night with him. Mr WCE was working/traveling often. When I was sick/very tired, I would put the kids (say, 1, 1 and 3) in the bonus room where we keep toys and lay in front of the door to take a nap, because they would have to walk across me to leave the room. I kept the nebulizer in the same room, because I couldn’t control my other two children while nebulizing the third.

    My dad is caring for my mom in the late stages of cancer, when she’s in a lot of pain, unable to eat/drink well and sleeping at odd times. He said he thinks of it the same way he thought about whether he would fail Officer Candidate School- other people have gotten through this, and I can too.

    So that’s the advice from the Stoic Midwesterner front.

  8. My 18-year-old cat is currently the main sleep-interrupter. She has kidney failure but it’s not killing her very fast, and she’s really vocal, and she stomps on my head at 4am. I can’t bear to put her outside the room, though, because she’s 18 and sick. It’s been going on for a year. It will end eventually.

    Other than that, my sleep benefits from lots of exercise, an eyeshade, and earplugs. I think you don’t realize how much small sounds are interfering with your sleep til the earplugs are blotting them out.

  9. The headline writer stressed the totebag question, but the post should not be raken ro imply that this is more than an occasional annoyance in an otherwise easy life. Yesterday there was a severe thunderstorm watch so I put off my kayak session to this afternoon. But today I had a morning errand as well, so I am grabbing lunch out and then going to the river. Full day. DH is away, so keeping a little busier is not a bad idea.

    Unfortunately, I cannot nap, and can’t really sleep more than 8 hours at a stretch. Napping during Zazu’s rest time is also not prudent.

  10. I second the suggestion for earplugs. It took me a while to get used to them, but they are so helpful.

  11. Now, with big kids who fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow, I get to sleep uninterrupted. Some days I do work late and I hate those because come the next afternoon, I could do with a bit of a nap.
    Meme – envious of your kayaking on a weekday.

  12. “He said he thinks of it the same way he thought about whether he would fail Officer Candidate School- other people have gotten through this, and I can too.”

    That’s an interesting experience to compare it to. Being unfamiliar with caring for someone terminally ill, it didn’t occur to me that the analogy could fit.

  13. Mr WCE has always struggled with sleep and has found his Fitbit sleep tracker to be helpful. It also helps me to be more patient when he tells me he’s only had 5 hours of sleep each of the past x nights. I don’t struggle with sleep in the way he does, so I’ve always felt dumped on when he takes a nap whenever and leaves me to deal with whatever.

  14. WCE – I am intrigued. I would LOVE one of those for DH to tell me how much he is actually sleeping – then I could try to match it up in my head with how cranky he is. :)

    When we had very small babies, I was more likely to break down crying than I was to get mad; I was just a bundle of tears waiting to come to the surface then! Now, I am more likely to get impatient with the kids when they don’t listen for the effing 10th time. I may get that “how to talk so kids will listen” book from the attic to bring on vacation to see if I can get any tips from it. I often feel like my every last nerve is stretched to the brink, not so much with being tired/not enough sleep, but with ALL THE THINGS that I have to remember and no time to think about planning dinner. :)

    On a happy note, though, I just got a new computer and it is AWESOME and already making my WAH day more productive!

  15. DH’s reasons for not getting a proper night’s rest vary. It could be work related (travel makes things worse) or feeling too hot or being woken up by a noise. IMO, not sticking to a consistent sleep/wake routine even on days when he can creates sleep issues.

  16. I’ll throw in another vote for earplugs. And definitely look into a new mattress. I was finally persuaded to spend the money for a really good mattress a few years ago when someone pointed out that you spend a third of your life in bed. It really makes a big difference in our quality of sleep.

  17. I’ll also channel Kaleberg and suggest blackout curtains – it makes a big difference.

  18. “or feeling too hot ”

    Do you have a ceiling fan above the bed? When we bought the house, we had them installed in every bedroom. Ours is always on; speed varies. In winter, it operates in reverse just to keep the air moving and also to disburse those cold air drafts that are generated by the heat pump cycling on.

  19. @Milo – yes we do have a ceiling fan that is on. DH has to have air circulating, I don’t care for air circulation in the winter, makes me feel colder.

  20. I am an experienced sleep shifter, if not an expert. My residency experience is probably more relevant than the early kid stuff. With the sleep deprivation of babyhood the only way out was through – no amount of “sleep when the baby sleeps” worked for us.

    A few things I find that help me:
    -judicious caffeine use. Once I broke the daily coffee habit, I found that I could get a really good energy burst when I really needed it. When you are a daily drinker, it is just part of the morning routine. However, if I work until 1am, but then am up at 6:30a the next day (something I take pains to avoid), I can get a few shots of espresso and melt away some of the fog.
    -Melatonin to sleep when I need to, instead of waiting until I want to. Years of swing shifts (the busiest time in the Er, and so the most common shift), means that I have really turned from a morning into a night person. I would prefer to stay up until 2am every night. As Rhett mentioned – there are good over the counter options – I prefer Melatonin (less hangover for me and vivid dreams and it’s NATURAL*!) to diphenhydramine (pretty much the active ingredient in any OTC sleep medication)

    I am curious what kind of ear plugs people use – I am a believer, but they begin to hurt my ears after the first few hours.

    *this was pretty much for WCE’s benefit. Natural-schmatural.

  21. I don’t care for air circulation in the winter, makes me feel colder.

    Use more or thicker blankets. If he needs fewer covers you might try the German style:

  22. L, I recommend the Fitbit. Mr WCE won his in a drawing at work and I think he has the Fitbit Charge. It’s helpful both to let me understand his challenges (I respond to data!) and to give him non-wifely feedback on how his habits (lack of regular bedtime due to hobbies, for example) affect his sleep. We had a trip to Iowa, followed by a few days of camping with the kids, followed by visiting his Mom in the past month. We are looking at another trip to Iowa followed by his 3 week crazy-busy work trip to Europe, and now I’ve learned to plan for another week of mostly-solo parent duty while he recovers from jet lag. We plan to let our twin with sleep challenges (6 and still doesn’t sleep through the night regularly; appears to sleepwalk) wear the Fitbit for awhile too, for a discussion with our pediatrician.

    Milo, he doesn’t necessarily sleep in our bed and we bought a couch he likes under the living room ceiling fan. I tolerate the bedroom deck door being open to our 50-something summer nights, so I’m not sure how much more temperature relief he can reasonably expect. I’m interested in any recommendations for a one-side-of-the-bed cooling mattress pad/pillow. (I’m a cold person and wear flannel pajamas year-round to try to accommodate him.)

    Partly, he has an interesting, challenging job and he has trouble shutting his mind off. Prekids, when he had complete control of his schedule, he could kind of manage. I also observe, now that I’m on a long maternity leave again, that if he’s not forced to get up to take care of the kids (as when I’m working), that he tends to go to bed later and get up later. After almost 15 years of marriage, I’m beginning to think sleep is a problem we’ll never solve.

  23. The schedule-change thing is a major anxiety-provoker for me — my ADD coping mechanism is to have a set routine, and so when I need to change that, I get very anxious about missing something.

    Honestly, right now I am off-the-charts on the anxiety meter. The normal adjustment to summer bus schedules is exacerbated by the ongoing construction on 95 that can make the trip to the bus take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Plus I have a new, extremely demanding client who is on the west coast, and our whole routine is based on me working the early shift and being free to cover kid/home stuff in the afternoon, so that’s all screwed up now. And now we are adding 28 hour-long Cogmed sessions for DD’s ADHD between now and August. I am to the point where, when a client asks for more work, I feel my chest clench and the borderline panic set in.

    The only way I know to address this is to tackle it head-on as my anxiety talking, not reality. I remind myself that we’ve managed the camp bus for 5-6 years now without getting the kids sent back to camp; that I have survived difficult clients before; that things will work out and we will find a new version of normal; that I need to LOOK at the reality of the schedule instead of hypothesizing all the horribles that might happen, and just tackle one bite at the time; etc. And then working on the basics of taking care of myself — emphasizing the running and sleeping, for example, even when I feel like I don’t have time for it, and eating good-quality food instead of defaulting to crap.

    Also, this is going to sound weird, and it may well be all in my head, but I find dates really, really good for how I feel. When I am eating “cleaner” — which largely means less bread/starch and more lean meat/fruit/veggies — and toss in a couple of dates and nuts as my snack, my energy level and body as a whole just feels better (I suspect it’s the potassium, but who knows?).

  24. dh and I were both recently diagnosed with sleep apnea, any chance the sleep you are getting isn’t good sleep due to something similar?

  25. In a few words – I don’t have any good mechanisms. I’m still suffering fatigue from a sinus infection + waaay toooo muuuuch personal crap. When I feel like I’m going to blow, I basically drop everything and leave the house/room/situation. During pregnancy and mat leave, I would cry to DH, like ugly cry. And then all was well. Now it becomes a battle of wits with myself (I can beat this! I will not let the screaming baby get the best of me!). I lose the battle more than I win.

    I do request one night a week where I get uninterrupted sleep for as long as I want. I get Friday night. I’m off baby duty until I get up on Saturday. I let DH have Saturday night.

    On the fitbit sleep thing – DH needs that. I’m wondering if his recent bout of crankies stems from not getting enough sleep. Hopefully that will change. We are trying to get to our room by 9-10p and watch DVR (we got whole-house DVR last night), or talk, or do whatever grown people do behind closed doors. We’d like earlier, but DS doesn’t get put down for the night until about 8-8:30p

  26. I am terrible at sleeping. I can’t remember the last time that I slept more than 3 hours without waking. Sometimes because of the kids, but more often just because I just wake up. I was always a restless person, but it has become 10x worse since having kids. Coffee helps in the day. Benadryl helps at night.

  27. WCE – They make these pads that can go on just one half of the bed that get cooled by a little refrigeration machine on the floor. They must be constantly recirculating a cooled fluid, like a chill water system. They had it at the Sleep Number store; let me look.

  28. I used to be a terrible sleeper, waking up several times a night, and I think the reason was my hormones were out of whack. Eating well, exercise and magnesium before bed and I sleep through the night 7 or 8 hours almost every night. DH is now a terrible sleeper. A lot of it is due to the fact that when he is busy, he is working until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning for week long stretches and then has trouble adjusting and going to bed at a reasonable hour when he is able do so again. He does use melatonin sometimes.

    I have read that before the advent of electricity, people slept biphasically. Went to bed at dark, slept for a while, up around midnight and they would hang out for a few hours and then go back to sleep and that our current idea of sleeping 7 or 8 hours in a row is the odd thing.

  29. I am terrible at sleeping.

    I might have mentioned this before but I was watching a show about the Navy Seals and one of the skills you needed to master was the ability to sleep on command. You could be a fearsome warrior, brilliant tactician, expert marksmen, etc. but if you can’t function unless you’re in bed by 9:30 – it’s very likely you won’t make it through training.

    I was thinking about this in relation to our “falling out of the middle class” discussion we had yesterday. Getting ahead in the world involves any number of skills: social skills, political skills, academic skills, intellectual ability etc. And, I would add, being a good and efficient sleeper. Someone who ranks a 10 on a good day but is usually a terrible sleeper might not do as well someone who is an 8 but can wake up rested and refreshed after 4 hours sleeping on park bench.

  30. I wore the fitbit at night for a month until it was absolutely clear that my sleep efficiency varied from 98% to 100% every night, it took me from 30 sec to 10 min to fall asleep, and I woke up during sleep only 1 night out of 4 and fell back to sleep within five minutes. Then I stopped tracking. I have a memory foam mattress on a platform board, with all the windows wide open when possible and no shades or blinds.

    My sleep deprivation comes from schedule changes too late in the day to adjust my food and caffeine intake or activity level to allow me to roll back the expected bedtime by a couple of hours. I can’t take any sort of sleep aids – I am super sensitive to medications of all sorts, even “natural” ones, supplements or biologics. And if the reason i need to get to bed early is a 7 am drive to babysit, a couple of shots of whiskey (my last resort) are not advised.

    One of the reasons that older people eat early in the day (we frequently have our heavy meal at about 2pm, more like a traditional European midday meal than an early bird special) is that it now takes hours to lose that feeling of fullness that puts off comfortable sleep.

  31. For people with terrible time adjusting to jet-lag (as WCE mentioned about her DH), I would recommend discussing with a primary care provider a prescription for occasional provigil (or nuvigil). These are widely used drugs by military and medical professionals (and college students). They do have a legitimate use for adjusting sleep schedule – you take them when you want to be awake and they provide a pretty steady and even wakefullness, without the jitteryness of coffee or amphetamines. If I recally, they have FDA approval for treatment of narcolepsy, jet lag and shift work sleep disorder.

  32. After 7 years of getting up again and again with the kids, I don’t really sleep anymore.

    Lately I’ve gotten the kids down by 10, sleep by 11, up at 12:30 with DS2 for half an hour, up again at 3:30 with DS1. I try to go back to sleep, but usually I greet the sun with DS2 at 5:15.

    I’ve been taking tylenol to try to catch another hour between 4 and 5 am, but it isn’t working anymore. Should I try melatonin? I’m afraid that if I take something in the evening I won’t wake up when the kids do.

  33. Is it just me? I am really afraid of taking any kind of sleeping pill or other sleeping aid with a kid in the house. What if he needs me? What, God forbid, if somebody breaks a window in the back door. Would I hear?

  34. Sky, IIRC, your kids old enough not to need you on a regular basis at night. Have you thought of embarking on any sleep training, so that if they get up, they can put themselves back to bed?

  35. Sky – I agree w/Houston. Sleep training is in order if there are no extenuating circumstances. Why do they go to bed at 10:00? I would be at the end of my rope if I didn’t put my kids to bed at 7:30/8:00.

  36. They were waking several times a night, so I have been trying to find a way to reduce that and experimented with bedtime, which was 7. I now have 2 kids going to sleep at 8:30 and my night owl won’t go down until 10.

  37. Sky, also agreed. If they are just used to waking up at X time but have no real need to, I would sleep train. Put to bed earlier and do not get them when they wake up. (Friends who did this with kids at a later stage like ages 2-3, both did it with grandparents. Grandparents were very firm about not getting up and after about 3-4 days, kid was sleeping from 8-7.)

  38. Meme, your post reinforces what I have thought. My impression is that when you are retired, or a teacher on summer break, your time is now self-scheduled, so your time management is far less efficient. When you have to adhere to a set schedule (because of work or being bookended by the school day), you are better at getting more done in less time out of necessity.

  39. For me, at least, I definitely am just as easily roused with melatonin on board than without. In our house, I always handle the middle of the night wake ups, and DH always does the mornings. I am probably a bit crankier, but I am pretty cranky when I get up, so that would be difficult to measure. I probably use melatonin 2-3 x per week to reset bed time for myself.

    I do, occasionally, give it to my children as well – when they are off schedule or sleeping in unfamiliar places. There is a reason they make it in a gummi formulation…

  40. I got a FitBit for Xmas but haven’t activated it yet. I don’t need it to tell me I had a crappy night’s sleep. I can tell that for myself! And the FitBit won’t make suggestions (that I probably won’t follow anyway) on how to improve my sleep.

  41. Wasn’t there a poster (maybe anon or semi-anon) who had a child with a chronic health issue that was waking him up in pain at various times throughout the night? I wonder if there’s any news, hopefully positive, to report there.

  42. My youngest has never been a good sleeper, and chronically wakes up in the middle of the night. Sleep training has no impact – she never cared whether we came and got her or not. She would just get up and do whatever she wanted. Sometimes I would find her at 3 in the morning in her room drawing pictures or doing Legos.

  43. WCE, does Mr. WCE have a strategy for adjusting back to local time? One week seems like a long time to make the adjustment, especially if he is traveling west to get home (a guess on my part). I’m also wondering how he functions on his job if it takes him that long to adjust at the start of his trip.

    My experience is that it’s harder to adjust when traveling east, and that seems to be shared with everyone with whom I’ve discussed this. It’s easier to deal with gaining time than losing time.

    I’ve found I can get back to local time in a day or two by forcing myself to local time right away, albeit sometimes a bit different than my normal hours. E.g., if I travel west, it’s easy to wake up early, so upon return from a trip east, I might wake up and go to sleep somewhat earlier (an hour or so) than usual for a few days, gradually getting back to my normal times.

  44. LfB – Cogmed is AWESOME. Our neuropsyc said we needed to monitor and we did the first week, but being watched added more stress to kiddo. We backed off. We had a window of time in which she was to do her daily sessions. Per our neuropsyc we had a reward per week. If the data showed she “blew it off”, no reward that week. That was determined during our weekly phone checkin. Plus, the outcome at the end has been tremendous! I would do it in a heartbeat and highly recommend it to anyone considering in. We did 5 days a week for 5 weeks.

    Meme – To the OT – For me, if I get short sleep on short notice, I find an extra B12 vitamin first thing in the morning to be helpful. I also have a selection on youtube that is to help concentration. When the kind of day you describe is pending, I listen to it during breakfast/getting ready – it is 30 min total. I find that helps me get in a better frame of mind. Child or situation about to make me lose it that day – I go in to the bathroom, close my eyes and talk 10 deep breaths. OK – that does assume you can leave whatever you are doing and whomever you are with alone for that 5 minutes. Also, try to drink more water that day – I add sliced cucumber or lemon or any citrus handy and that seems to help.

    At certain times, my kids didn’t nap, but I needed one. Rule – you must be in your room doing something quiet. I set the time and put it in the hall outside their rooms. I napped on the couch at the end of the hall. Their job was to wake me when the timer went off.

  45. Yep, Milo, that was me -DS1 had severe reflux that was waking him. The meds seem to have worked, and now he’s only getting up once.

    All I have left to deal with is DS2, who saw his opportunity for more mommy time….

  46. “At certain times, my kids didn’t nap, but I needed one. Rule – you must be in your room doing something quiet. ”

    When the kids were young, we’d often put on some music. If kid didn’t fall asleep, the time could be spent quietly listening to the music. We discovered certain CDs were much better than others at putting the kids to sleep; for DS, it was the Getz/Gilberto CD including “Girl from Ipanema.”

  47. “Any time I put on shoes and venture off my own property, it counts as a half-day. Not in real time, but in psychic time.”

    As a fellow retiree, this sounds about right. The less I have to do, the bigger each task becomes. It’s depressing to realize this.

    The two-segment sleep pattern seems to suit me. I rarely sleep more than four hours at a time, and only at night, I’ve always envied people who can nap during the day.

  48. CoC and Grocery Bags, I don’t find this lack of efficiency upsetting in the least. One of the joys of retirement (at least retirement without daily responsibility for children still at home or local elders) is that you can prioritize other things over efficiency. And if plans change, there is (usually) always another day. If it storms on Tuesday and you can’t go out on the water, Thursday might already be booked up, but there is still Wednesday and Friday. I got an email last Wed evening that DD2 was going to be in town and hoteling in my guest room Sat and Sun night. I found out the next day Cousin D, who is the one of the few in the world who likes DH without having to make allowances, was also going to be around. Both were involved in my ex’s milestone birthday weekend, so it was not clear whether there was any time left over for visits with us. Made a pot of chili and straightened up the house, and stayed loose. Hakuna matata. Had a nice visit with both Sunday night, as it turned out.

  49. I find that it is harder to adjust traveling west than traveling east. I can get rid of jet lag in a day when I go to Europe. Because most flights are at night, you basically are doing an all nighter. So I just make sure I don’t go to bed that first night in Europe until something approximating the local bedtime. Then, I am fine the next day.
    But when I travel west (and I had to go to the Pacific Northwest just recently so this is fresh in my mind), it can take up to a week for me to feel normal. No matter what I do, I wake up at 3am for several days in a row. Then I am a zombie for the rest of the day. I can’t even eat because I get so messed up. At my conference,everyone from the east coast was complaining even 3 days later. We were all dragging badly.

  50. “Milo, that was me -DS1 had severe reflux that was waking him. The meds seem to have worked, and now he’s only getting up once. ”

    Oh, good. I’m glad.

    Meme – What is the difference between your European mid-day meal and the early bird special? Is it just because you’re not [yet] down in Boca? :)

    Also, on a more serious note, it’s kind of surprising to me that my parents are not interested in this life of leisure that you describe. In a way, I think they’re actually kind of scared of it, or more accurately, they’re scared of saying “Well, that’s that for our professional lives.”

  51. I am a good sleeper. I rarely nap and find that I get over episodes of wakefulness by being more tired, hence a better sleeper, the next day.

  52. Rhode and yesterday’s Anon – traveling today so just catching up on this thread. My dyslexic daughter has recently discovered that her Mac can read things to you. Many textbooks can be obtained in an online format, and this tool used to read them to you. There is an advocacy org called Headstrong Nation created by a former Intel exec with dyslexia who has an MBA and JD from Stanford. He has a link on there to help you train yourself to listen at about 4x speed. My daughter hasn’t done (because it’s my idea?) but I think it would be really helpful. The brain fatigue after slogging through a lot of reading wears her down.

  53. Mooshi, when I travel west (e.g., returning home from the continental US), I stay up until a normal bedtime, local time. This makes for a long day, especially if returning from the east coast, but when I do go to bed, I fall asleep very quickly, and I’m tired enough to sleep a full 7.5 hours or so. On waking the next morning, I’m pretty much on local time, albeit a bit early, which works out fine, since on week days I need to wake up earlier than my body wants to wake up.

    Or, if you’re waking up at 3am anyway, why not just stay on east coast time? I’m going to guess that when you woke up at 3am, you didn’t stay up until 11pm that night to make it easier to sleep until 6:30 the next morning.

    Like you, I have found it easier and faster to adjust to local time when traveling east if I take a redeye. When I was a senior in college, I remember flying to the west coast for job interviews, and they’d want me to fly out one day, get to the hotel late that night, then be at their office at 8 the next morning (aka, 5am by my body clock). But as I tried to get to sleep at midnight, my body still thought it was 9pm, way too early to get to bed. So I might finally fall asleep by 2am local (11pm body time), then have to wake up 4 hours later.

  54. “her Mac can read things to you. ”

    Perhaps killing the audio book industry?

  55. On topic, I have mentioned this before, but I have recently started taking B12 and iron for some weird deficiencies, and it is amazing how much more energy I have, how aches and pains are disappearing and mental fog is lifting. If there is any chance your vitamin levels are not optimal, I highly recommend supplements.

  56. BTW, for those traveling west as tourists, I suggest taking advantage of the time difference, and scheduling early morning activites on the first day or two of your trip. E.g., if you go to Maui and want to see the sun rise on Haleakala, do it the first day of your trip, when your body wants to wake up at 3am anyway.

  57. Finn– I don’t know. A Mac will read to your rather monotonously. A good audiobook has a lot more variability in the voices.

    On the original topic, I’ve got nothing. I have found that woo-woo aromatherapy can actually help the mid-afternoon slump. Peppermint oil (just smelling it, nothing crazy) helps me wake up during that time. I can’t nap during the day or I find it impossible to fall asleep at night.

  58. Mooshi – I usually fall asleep about 1 am, so going west to California just means I go to bed at 11pm and wake up at 6 am, but I was so active on the last trip I was able to doze until 8am. I took the red eye home, and that took a day and a half to get over,but no more.

    Milo – If my grandchildren hadn’t moved here and needed me so much last year, I might be going through some withdrawal. But I was pro-active even before I knew I would be needed. I started and continued serious bridge study. Now I am kayaking two-three times a week on tranquil stretches of nearby river and am thrilled – I was planning to get a bike but this is far better for the soul and much cheaper. I also cook more elaborately, and have time to iron my linens and cotton garments – ironing is the one other (besides cooking) aspect of housekeeping I value and enjoy. I managed to learn how not to kill plants for the first time in my life – I now have the bandwidth to pay enough attention to them. The reason they say to those reluctant to leave the workforce, you’ll know when it’s right, is that you will know. One day some bit of ordinary workplace BS will tip the scales.

    Milo’s humorous question – Full meal off the lunch menu at 2 pm at the tail end of the lunch service – appetizer and main with sides, followed by a siesta at home for DH, and maybe a light snack in the early evening. That works and the business lunch places are fairly decent. Now, if we lived where early bird specials were offered and were tasty, we might be willing to try it out rather than eat at home if we haven’t gone out. If we are home all day, we don’t eat lunch and eat dinner in at 5:30-6:00. But when we have tried to go out to eat at 4:45 for scheduling reasons before doing something in the early evening, we find that most restaurants are not properly staffed even if open and haven’t finished prepping the full dinner menu for service.

    I will consider the tip about B12, although I am in general swearing off supplements. The nutritionist said, fish oil for total cholesterol management. I dutifully took it for three months and lo and behold, for me it barely lowered triglycerides and sent my LDL through the roof. That was after I tried red yeast rice – no effect (turns out the FDA made them take out the active ingredient). And don’t ask about the fiber. All of this on doctor’s recommendations, and all of the relevant information is right there on the internet.

  59. As a partial retiree and part-time worker – the urgency has decreased. I was more productive with time crunch because if I did not do something NOW there would not be time later. Now, putting it off is much easier. Sliding into that mindset has made the past month worse – juggling kids, getting new supports in place for my mom as well as new routines, dealing with a new health issue for her, working through my dad’s estate and getting all their bills figured out, working part-time and our bathroom remodel (we scheduled 6 months ahead to do during summer break when being down a bathroom for 2-3 weeks would be a much smaller deal) all hit. Trying to get back into that super time sensitive mode has been a hard transition.

  60. We were all at The Oaks recently, visiting DW’s grandmother. The place is nice; I think I could be happy enough there, and most of the residents we encountered seemed happy and friendly. But Grandma is a serious hoarder, and it’s getting worse. Meals are offered, but she also has a small kitchen, and it’s just a disaster. At 90, she really doesn’t have much appetite or probably much taste, but she blames this on the food that they serve and even the food that she prepares. So she just keeps buying more of it, and a lot of it just rots. Literally. The food storage overflows into plastic shelving in the living room. She’s been diabetic for decades, and still buys tons of candy (my kids appreciate this, at least. They call it the Candy Store.)

    Then the clothes. Her excuse has always been that, during the Depression, kids made fun of her for the dresses her mom sewed her from feed sacks. Now there are so many clothes in the bedroom that the portable hanging racks are extending over both sides of the queen bed, rendering it effectively a twin, at best.

    It’s depressing. I think that some of these places need to be run like a military school, with weekly barracks inspections. Throw in mandatory PT each morning for good measure. Seriously. Bingo can wait. There’s way too much coddling and enabling going on there.

  61. Okay, after what Tulip wrote I might try aromatherapy. Peppermint oil sounds like it would be pleasant..

    Caffeine seems to have no effect on me. I can drink a cup or two of coffee right before bed with no problem. However, I try to psyche myself out that a coffee or tea break will refresh me, and it seems to work.

  62. Milo – At most senior communities weekly maid service is included. Rotting food would normally be cleaned then. Clothing racks that block egress are fire hazards and would also be noted. The residents are checked on nightly, even if no one actually enters their rooms.

    It sounds like she is in some sort of independent living or even a 65 plus community with an optional central dining room, a community center and rec director and no individualized direct support services through the facility at all. (She may have outside private services, but those are usually coordinated with the facility). The problem is not with The Oaks. It is that her children need to intervene to get her level of service increased, at an additional fee, of course. The facility will eventually discover the rotting food or trace bugs back to it or see that she never leaves the room or acts odd when out of it, and they will either kick her out or issue an ultimatum.

  63. Meme – something like that. I’m not exactly sure the specific arrangements, but, for example, she’s broken the refrigerator previously by stuffing too much food in there, and The Oaks had to deal with that. So they have some idea.

    One son visits very occasionally (to put it mildly) and has no patience for it at all. I don’t know if MIL is just in denial or doesn’t want to be the bad guy. I know that they would pay any fee necessary, but Grandma is self-funding it through her own annuities, so that would be a big shift.

    The thing is, she leaves her room. She’s very social, has a lot of friends. She loves it there. And she’s able to go shopping when the van makes its trips.

  64. I always do wait until the local bedtime but it doesn’t help – I still wake at 3am. And all of the East Coasters at the conference complained of the same thing. Which meant that the reception, scheduled for 6 to 8pm, was very sad – lots of people sitting around, too tired to mingle.

    The great grandaddy of jet lag, going to China, is not bad if you choose your flight times carefully. It is a 12 hour difference. All three times I went, we arrived at the hotel in early evening, so I just ate dinner and then was tired and went to bed at the local bedtime. So jet lag wasn’t really a problem, although the pollution made me drag. On my first and second trips, we were there long enough (3 weeks) to get acclimated, but had wildly different jet lag experiences coming home. On the first trip, we had to travel for 24 hours straight (3 different flights, plus a complex US immigration experience), and arrived at JFK at 2am, with a baby who had slept through the whole thing and who was totally on Chinese time. The next week was hellish – 3 kids who couldn’t sleep at night, and a mom who was falling asleep at stop signs while driving. On the second trip, we opted to spend the night in Shanghai rather than do the 2 flight legs at once, and we also were able to arrive home in mid afternoon. What a difference, We were exhausted from the 16 hour flight, went home, made dinner, and went to bed at the correct NY time. No problems at all. On my third trip, I was in China only a week, so jet lag going home wasn’t as big of a deal.

  65. College report for Finn: DS loved USNA’s summer STEM program. He came back glowing, and this is a kid that shows no emotion. Lots of fun STEM-related activities. PT every day with sit ups, runs, push ups. Well balanced meals. Neat USNA swag. So impressive. The problem is that now all the other colleges will look like crap.

    Went on the engineering tour of a top 25 university. Because of my negative review, I’m not using a name, but you know what school it is. They put a 65 year old EE professor in front of the room who droned on and on about useless stuff (communication skills, international study opportunities). Did not try to sell the school or department at all. No talk about research, projects, teaching quality, internships, jobs. DS went from a “definitely will apply” to a “maybe”.

    More to come later this summer.

  66. “They put a 65 year old EE professor in front of the room who droned on and on about useless stuff (communication skills, international study opportunities)”
    The administration likely mandates that they push international study and communication skills (I know our administration does), and that poor old EE professor was probably the only person willing to do the presentation.

  67. Mooshi, You are probably right. However, it makes me question the teaching quality of the school (which is supposed to be really good). What if they are all like Dr. EE?

  68. Houston – I didn’t do no summer programs, but I spent a Friday and Saturday there during the Spring of my junior year of high school, what they called a “drag weekend,” tailing a freshman, and I was hooked. I even saw my host in subsequent years and would say hi.

    My God, what a story…

    Long, of course, and heartbreaking, but just incredible that a magazine can still produce journalism like this.

  69. Milo she sounds peculiar, but closer to inappropriate than mentally ill. Hoarders are usually depressed, isolated and hostile. I suggest supplemental housekeeping service, with a hefty tip from your Mother in law on top of the fee to the facility.

  70. Re. ear plugs, I’ve never been able to use the skinny ones that you are supposed to stick into your ear. Somehow, I can’t place them correctly. Instead, I swear by these:

    I can no longer sleep without my ear plugs, eye mask, and night guard (for tooth grinding). If we are traveling, those are the first things I pack. I look pretty ridiculous wearing all this stuff, but I generally sleep quite well.

  71. I have found that taking an aspirin (or two) before bed helps me get a solid night’s sleep. It doesn’t help me fall asleep, but I awake refreshed and rested. I learned this trick from an old Ngaio Marsh mystery, where the murderer put aspirin in her boyfriend’s coffee to make sure he didn’t wake up when she snuck out to commit her crime!

  72. NoB,what kind of night guard do you use? DW has had some dental issues, and her dentist has suggested she try that.

  73. “I’ve been taking tylenol to try to catch another hour between 4 and 5 am, but it isn’t working anymore.”

    I suggest you be very careful with Tylenol use, especially on a regular basis, Excessive use can lead to liver issues.

  74. A nephrologist friend also sees a lot of excessive painkiller use, including acetaminophen, naproxen, and ibuprofen, among her patients with kidney failure.

  75. Thanks for the advice about managing sleep and jet lag. Europe is 9 hours ahead of us. It’s probably unfair to characterize the jet lag as lasting a week, given that the last major trip required 24 hours of travel to get home on three flights followed by long days at work to catch up on stuff that couldn’t get done remotely. My perception as the SAH spouse (I had 3 kids two and under) and Mr WCE’s perception (I got up for work in the early morning and stayed awake till 7 PM, that’s pretty good) might be a little different.

  76. An obvious part of the jet lag recovery problem is the long days at work upon return. I wonder how much sleep he gets while he is on travel; perhaps that’s another part of the problem, or perhaps jet lag isn’t really the problem, it’s that he has too much work and not enough sleep.

    When I’ve had to travel for work, I usually get more sleep than normal, because I don’t have household chores to take care of in the evenings, and that helps my recovery when I get home. My employers have also allowed some recovery time; the expectation for people returning after travel is the first day or two will be, if anything, shorter, not longer, than normal.

  77. Sky – are your kids getting enough exercise during the day ? It would help to enroll at least the older ones in a running around sport like soccer. I sat this because DS gets up early in the morning when he is not tired. Now that he is older, it is not an issue but when he was younger that meant parental sleep was disturbed (similar to what you described – waking up at 5.30). Exercise and drinking lots of water helps with the stomach issues.
    I agree with other posters to move bedtime earlier, no later than 8.30 and hard as it is, not getting out of your bed in the middle of the night when they wake up.

  78. @Sky — agree with Louise. The thing I noticed when I started sending my kids to their current day camp (swim twice a day, an hour of sports, lots of nature hikes, etc.), is that they would just completely conk out at night. There was really a noticeable difference from the school year. So if you can find something that runs them, hard, during the day, they will likely stuff themselves silly at dinner and have a much easier time getting to sleep.

    We had similar issues with DD — she woke 30 mins *before* dawn, like clockwork (tolerable in winter, atrocious in summer). So I tried pushing her bedtime back to get more sleep. Epic fail. She still got up at 5 AM — we just added an hour of demon-child before she went to sleep, with the added bonus that she’d get so worked up and overtired that she then would have trouble falling asleep to boot. We went back to the earlier bedtime (7PM) and just learned to adjust to our little lark.

  79. Hmm, I guess you can’t post FB videos. I think that this is the same sighting, different camera.

  80. At the conclusion of that video, the YouTube screen within that comment field shows me a bunch of suggested videos. Five are shark-related, and one is Patsy Cline (not surprising for me). Do others see the same suggestions, including Patsy?

  81. Milo – LOL to the metro map. I love that Taco Bamba has a stop. That place is awesome!

  82. Finn — I use an NTI night guard, and it is awesome. Prior to getting the NTI, I had a more traditional guard that fit over my entire set of top teeth (the NTI fits just over my four front teeth). I still clenched as hard as ever at night, so although I was chomping on the guard rather than directly on my teeth, I was still waking up with headaches and jaw pain from the intense clenching. With the NTI, you simply can’t clench as tightly, so the device has gone a long way toward making me feel better in the morning.

  83. I’ve used a night guard for years for bruxism, and now I have a fancy-weird one to help with the apnea, since I haaaate my CPAP. It pulls my lower jaw forward to keep the airways open. I’ve adjusted to it lots better than I ever did the CPAP.

  84. I had to go to a special dentist and pay a really special amount of money for it. But staying oxygenated is one of my life goals.

  85. At the conclusion of that video, the YouTube screen within that comment field shows me a bunch of suggested videos. Five are shark-related, and one is Patsy Cline (not surprising for me). Do others see the same suggestions, including Patsy?

    I only got four suggestions and they are all shark-related.

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