Rested: A Day in the Retiree's Life

January 24th, 2014
Time Well Spent

Before my wife retired, she’d come home with tales of visiting with returning retirees. “So and so came for lunch today. Boy, did she look rested,” was how she often referred to one or another retiree. And, sure enough, when she retired and returned to see her former colleagues, she too got the compliment.

I work with the nearly or newly retired who are struggling to fill the hole where work used to be, discover a wonder-filled sense of purpose, replace the friends they left behind, and keep up! In this post I will focus on one of my favorite retirement surprises: Rest.

When I retired and returned to visit my former workmates, I too got the “You sure look rested” assessment. Despite all of the stories and the advanced warnings, it still took me by surprise! I didn’t even know I’d looked “un-rested.” What happened? It took me a while to figure that out.

One secret is sleep

One answer is quite simple. I sleep more. Think about it. If you can recover a fraction of your work-related commute time, work time, or worry-about-work time and instead devote that to sleep, you can actually get rested.

I’m a light sleeper. That’s one of the reasons I bought a PHR (Personal Health Record) device that I carry in my pocket. Among other things this device keeps track of how well and how long I sleep. Sure enough, when I looked back at my daily log of sleep, I was averaging 15 to 20 minutes more a day than before I retired. You can read about PHR devices in Retire to a Better You: How to Be Able for the Rest of Your Life.

I did research and came up with some guidelines so that other retirees can achieve the coveted “You sure look rested” award:

Go to bed and get up at the same time each day

New retirees want to sleep in. I get it. Nobody will fault the retiree who actually watches that late night TV show instead of nodding off to sleep due to the exhaustion imposed by the working world. And if anybody ever deserved some catch-up Zs, it is the retiree. Sleeping in is a good starting point, but…

Soon you need to establish a new, after-retirement, normal. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Maybe go to bed slightly earlier? Maybe stay in bed a little longer? It’s OK is to sleep a little bit longer, but your body responds positively to regularity so no matter how long you sleep; do it at the same time every day.

Read the warning label here too. Don’t sleep too long. Sleeping too much can be as bad for you as not sleeping enough. You want to add enough sleep to make you feel comfortable with the new norm, which should be different from how it used to be when you had to hit the shower to tell the body to wake up and drink the coffee to get the blood pumping. In retirement you should actually be able to count fewer of those drag-me-to-work days! You will find regular sleep habits are energizing. (However, a shower and coffee can still be part of your wake up routine. You don’t have to give them up, but you won’t need them the way you did before.)

Find something to do in the morning

My friend Marcia says she would stay in her jammies all day unless she had something to do. Isn’t there some activity you’d really like to do? Find a good reason to get out of bed.

  Meet friends?
  Yes, even employment?

You name it, but get up and go!

Be active

Exercise is a good, regular morning activity for a variety of reasons. After exercise your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate than without exercise. It’s a good idea to get that started early in the day. Early morning or not, a higher level of activity helps you rest better and feel better and be better!

Get a little more sleep. Be a little more active. And soon your friends will say, “My! you look rested.”

Retire to Play and Purpose: How to Have an Amazing Time Going Forward is a book filled with suggestions for kicking your retirement off well, avoiding things that may not serve you, and finding those activities that help you feel fulfilled in what can be the best of your life, the retirement years. Join me in exploring where the new playful and purposeful you can go. Setting a “normal” daily schedule is a suggestion the book gives that will serve you well.

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