You know what it means to be tired—it’s the desire to enter a vegetative state and not do anything remotely useful for yourself or the development of humankind.
Ever wondered why you’re always tired? There are a number of mechanisms that make us tired, and each one of them makes us feel a certain kind of exhaustion. But there are ways to fix it, too.
This is a particular type of fatigue that makes you feel drowsy and heavy-headed once bedtime approaches. Because of melatonin, though, you can’t really avoid it, even if you had a fairly relaxing day and generally sleep well.
Basically, the more of this chemical you have in your system, the sleepier you feel. Your body produces melatonin following a pattern known as the circadian cycle. Barely any melatonin is produced in the morning and mid-day, but it starts to kick in between 8 and 9 p.m. and hits its peak between 1 and 2 a.m., at which point you really want to hit the sack. It stays at pretty elevated levels for about 12 hours, until around 8 a.m.
Melatonin diminishes our ability to be alert and focused. That’s why our work schedules are generally structured around mornings and early afternoons, and much less in the evening.
But not everybody produces melatonin in the same intervals. Some might hit peak melatonin at midnight and feel perfectly refreshed waking up at 7 a.m., while others reach their highest melatonin levels at 1:30 a.m. and need to wake up at 8:30 a.m. to feel just as rested. This is called a chronotype, and it varies from person to person.
Science has speculated this is actually an evolutionary trait, because those who fell asleep later could stand guard over those who went to bed earlier.
Your body knows on a biological level whether it’s night or day by sensing how much light is in the environment. If there’s a lot of light, then it must be daytime; if it’s dark, it must be night.
Here are some tips that will help you get a good night’s sleep and ensure you are well rested in the morning:
1. Learn what your chronotype is.
Going to bed and waking up at your default hours will help you avoid restless periods when you can’t fall asleep because your body isn’t ready yet.
2. Keep your work environment well lit.
This is especially relevant during winter times when the day is short. The extra light will delay the production of melatonin and allow you to squeeze in a bit more productive work time.