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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > No. 138 Double Your Energy > REST AND RECREATION


Do you ever wake in the morning only to immediately wonder when you can next go to sleep again, or hit 3pm, eyes drooping, reaching for the coffee? So many of us are feeling totally exhausted. But why? And what can we do about it? Anita Chaudhuri investigates how to clear the fog…


Recently, I read on social media about a former colleague’s stellar new job. What struck me most forcefully wasn’t so much the glittering achievement in itself, but rather the other facts of her life, which were mentioned almost in passing: mother of four; marathon runner; charity ambassador; successful business owner.

I, on the other hand, sometimes genuinely struggle to get to the corner coffee shop for my morning latte, my energy levels are so low. It’s not just physical energy either, my brain is a regular pea soup. And, to top it off, I can’t even blame my age because Mrs Marathon-running Charity Ambassador is the same age as me.

Her story reminded me of Laura

Vanderkam’s book What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (Penguin, £8.99) – hint, not munching Hobnobs under the duvet. Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, claims to need only between four and six hours’ sleep a week, ditto Pepsico boss, Indra Nooyi. So, why is it, exactly, that some people appear to be born

Duracell bunnies, while the rest of us struggle to reach the end of the day without yawning, let alone getting to the bottom of the to-do list? Although an element of this may be genetic – Canadian scientists recently isolated something they identified as a ‘couch potato’ gene* – the good news is that our energy levels are actually largely within our control. Not only that, there might be something that all those go-getter success stories have in common. Something that all of us can do very easily, according to Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, a researcher at the Institute for the Future, a Silicon Valley think-tank. The answer, suggests Pang, is that creatively successful and productive people all understand how to rest effectively. ‘We need to take rest as seriously as we take food. Too often we treat rest as either a diversion, or a luxury that we do once we’re finished with everything else. The problem these days is we’re never finished with everything else.’

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Psychologies March 2017 - Double Your Energy