Home > Family, Humor, Work > Tweaking my tired levels, now with 800% more science!

Tweaking my tired levels, now with 800% more science!

Back in Japan almost a decade ago (!), I created mood cards to help my students get comfortable expressing how they were feeling beyond “I’m fine.”

Mood SLAP!

We used these cards in bunches of different games. I haven’t used them much since, mostly because I haven’t seen their application in a corporate I.T. environment. Still, there’s one card on my mind a lot these days:


With fewer than ten weeks between now and meeting my second little one, I am tired ALL THE TIME. All emphasis required!

I’m only a little tired on the best of days. Those are one sleepy face days. On the worst of days, I make 483 trips to the break room because I can’t fall asleep while on my feet. Those worst of days rank five sleepy faces on a tired scale of five sleepy faces.


Most days, I rank three sleepy faces on this scale. I’ve tried various tactics to see if I can adjust where I fall on the tired scale any given day . . . or moment. Here’s a breakdown of results to date:

Drinking a cup of tea

There it is! A small but pleasing surge of energy. Yes, this will do, up to a couple of cups a day.


Eating a candy bar

After five minutes:

Oh, yeah. This is what I’m talking about!


After twenty minutes:

Oh, man. Oh, man. What was I thinking. Was I thinking? Would anyone notice if I took a nap under my desk?


Actually taking a nap

Yeah, I haven’t actually tried this one. I spend three hours a day in my car, so forget about a car nap. And under my desk? Even less comfortable! Also, I can only figure the people who recommend this telecommute 100% of the time and don’t have to worry about being awakened to the question, “I’m sorry, am I interrupting your beauty sleep?”

Taking a walk

Like I said before, I can’t fall asleep on my feet. Unfortunately, the deepest impacts of this one last only hoursminutes post walk.


Propping up my feet

Zero discernible impact. Maybe the folks who recommended this didn’t mean I should be working with my keyboard on my knees at the time?


Trying really hard to not be tired

It turns out this takes a lot of energy. I don’t recommend this strategy to anyone who is tired, pregnant or not! (Sadly, it took a couple of weeks of trialerror and error to reach this conclusion.)


Accepting that I’m more tired than usual and slowing the heck down

Understanding I’ll be wiped out all day by huge bursts of output, I slow down to a steadier, more sustainable pace. It can feel a little boring, but it also feels a lot less exhausting. I highly recommend this approach to expectant mothers and other tired people. I walk a little slower. I type a little slower. I think a little longer before weighing in. It turns out those little investments throughout the day do a lot to keep the tired beast at bay.

This can be a little hard to embrace, but with a little practice, it’s clear this is much more pleasant than 11 a.m. swallow-your-soul levels of exhaustion. This one’s a winner!


It’ll probably be a little while till I’m back to full throttle.

1012356 slurp

What it felt like to work on Scrubs :)

And when I say “a little while,” what I mean is, “until my still unborn littlest one is sleeping through the night.” (Just a month or two, right?)

But that’s OK. It doesn’t feel quite as bad now that I’ve given up fighting it!

no mad

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m past due for a cup of tea.

What helps you keep your tired in check?
And am I interrupting your beauty sleep?

  1. January 23, 2014 at 6:39 am

    I was never as tired as I was during the first trimester of my pregnancies. Hang in there.
    Now, I just drink copious amounts of coffee, but I do find drinking water and actually getting to bed before midnight helps, for real.

    • January 23, 2014 at 6:40 am

      and I love the picture cards. I think I’ll get some put onto a lanyard and just hold them up to indicate my mood. Can’t talk, tired.

      • January 25, 2014 at 7:32 am

        After in read your comment, I decided that was a fabulous idea. I might make a mood necklace and communicate that way!

        Looking at these brings such a rush as I remember my students telling me how they genuinely felt. I miss those days, but I sure am glad I had ’em.

    • January 25, 2014 at 7:29 am

      I think it was like that for my first pregnancy, but it’s the third trimester that’s hitting me this time around! I did have a glorious respite Thursday evening, which I used to plow through some chores, but now I’m back to my baseline three sleepy faces. :p

      • January 25, 2014 at 7:31 am

        And this time you have a little person to care for – huge difference.

        • January 25, 2014 at 7:33 am

          Yes! I told my husband, “I don’t remember being this tired first time around!” As soon as I spoke the words aloud, I realized the key difference. 😀

  2. January 23, 2014 at 6:42 am

    Hey congrats! Another bundle of love on the way, how exciting! Clever post.

    • January 25, 2014 at 7:35 am

      Thanks! I try to intersperse the ponderous ones with more upbeat ones.

      Just two more months until life changes all over again. I’m excited.

  3. January 23, 2014 at 8:23 am

    During my first trimester, I snuck out to my car for an hour nap once because I was so exhausted. It was 9 AM.

    And you’re right about putting up your feet. Nada. And I just found out it doesn’t even help with my swelling feet unless my feet are above my heart. How is that even possible for a pregnant woman unless she’s laying down?

    • January 25, 2014 at 7:37 am

      When I read your comment, I tried envisioning how I could make that happen at the office. There’s just one way: lying on the floor! Nothing conspicuous about that . . .

  4. January 23, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Congrats! What kind of tea are you drinking? I was so neurotic when I was pregnant with my daughter… no caffeine, no coffee, no herbal anything including tea, no sushi etc … I was so exhausted my entire pregnancy I think I slept most of the way through it. =)

    • January 25, 2014 at 7:38 am

      I’m OK with a cup of whatever black tea is around. I move to ginger tea after 1-2 cups of that. I’m thinking of picking up more roobios tea, too, since it also tastes great without sweetener!

  5. January 23, 2014 at 9:47 am

    With my Crohn’s I often have sleepy days. I put my head down for 5-10 and it really helps. It’s that or falling asleep on the way home!

    • January 25, 2014 at 7:40 am

      I did have one day when I came dangerously close to falling asleep while driving home. After that, I vowed I’d pull over and nap if I got there again. It’s good to be reminded of that!

  6. January 23, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Hang in there Deborah, sleep is so special and can’t ever be underestimated. Your cards are a great idea and reminded me of cards my partner and I gave our son. Each day he would open an inspiration card and read it aloud. I felt like a little nap too as I saw your sleepy card. Happy dreams. B

    • January 25, 2014 at 7:42 am

      Thank you! It all feels bearable as long as I remember where–or to whom–it’s leading. I love the thought of D someday reading inspiration cards to me. Right now, I relish in his reading a word at a time. It’s joyous to witness these steps, even through a haze of sleepiness.

  7. January 24, 2014 at 9:53 am

    I think I fall asleep nearly every day at work. Only briefly, before jumping up to do the walk to the breakroom bit. Sometimes it is so incredibly overwhelming! I try putting my head down but I’m always worried about someone walking by. The funny thing is, I’ll then stay up too late that night and think “Maybe I’ll do better tomorrow night.” I never learn.

    • January 25, 2014 at 7:46 am

      One problem the last few weeks has been The Good Wife. My sister recommended it to me and I liked it so much I sacrificed a little sleep to see what all had happened. Now I’m caught up, fortunately, but your comment made me smile as I remembered that nightly choice. The show is just so good!

      • January 25, 2014 at 5:29 pm

        My show of late has been Grey’s Anatomy. I’m on season 3. It might be 10:00 and I know I need to head to bed and I’ll think, “Just one episode.” 🙂

  8. January 24, 2014 at 11:32 am

    After raising a large family and going to school i have forgotten what sleeping through the night is. But you’ll get through this. The emotion cards are great. Thanks

  9. January 24, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    The only way I could stay awake while pregnant was eating. Sometimes healthy stuff but usually not. However, the constant noshing also helped to fight off the constant hunger of late pregnancy. Enjoy your last few weeks!!!

    • January 25, 2014 at 7:49 am

      Thanks! I have been chewing on gum recently for much the same reason. Just that extra little bit of motion really does make a world of difference.

  10. January 24, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Absolute science, I love these cards. Can you put them on little Popsicle sticks and just hold them up so people won’t ask how you are?

  11. January 24, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Agree with your other readers-love your cards! Sorry for your fatigue. Thanks for the reminder about the winning technique–slowing down a bit and not fighting the fatigue. I KNOW this, and yet do not do it. Gah! Hope you are feeling better rested now. xo

    • January 25, 2014 at 7:52 am

      The first couple of weeks where I was plowing through at full speed, telling myself that I could will myself to have the energy to keep going, I remembered a site advising slowing down. At the time, I scoffed at the thought. Now, that extra little bit of slowness makes it easier to stay awake in the afternoon as well as the morning. I hope I can hold on to what I have learned from slowing down the last few weeks!

  12. January 25, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I long for a good nap, especially in the hammock beneath the trees in the springtime.

  13. January 26, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    I agree with Sandra-this is a clever post! Love the cards, I taught English as a Second Language to children for many years, so they really hit home, and I also miss the students. I got a kick out of your admission that you’ve been losing a little sleep to watch the Good Wife–aha! All the best in this last leg till your new little one arrives. 🙂

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