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Why am I so tired on my days off?

I have a little chicken-or-the-egg situation that keeps popping up again and am hoping you’ll weigh in with your own experiences.

While I have made a habit of taking Sundays off (though I confess I do a tiny bit of work here and there if need be, but not much), I don’t do a very good job getting out of my Avid Bookshop work mode other days.  With the exception of the aforementioned Sundays, I work every day even if I’m not on the schedule to work the floor at the bookshop. Days I’m not scheduled for a bookselling shift I am often at the shop anyway (what can I say? It’s a great place!), at my home office, or running errands.

Periodically I give myself a full or even a half-day off, and I find that, in the majority of cases, I end up pretty tired during those times.

After observing this yet again in early January, I wrote this down: “I’m wondering if I am feeling more tired because I took a day off or if I really am good at predicting when I’m going to be tired and therefore know ahead of time that I should take a day off.”

On the one hand, it can be frustrating to have no work commitments but end up being too fatigued to do the personal projects or household tasks I had hoped to get to. On the other hand, it is nice to give myself the official excuse to lounge in bed, watching TV while coloring or reading yet another book.  Oh, and naps: don’t forget how luxurious naps can be on a day off!

Of course there’s a lot of research out there about how your body can keep it together in high-stress times only to give out and demand a break as soon as those high-stress times have passed. For migraine sufferers, this phenomenon can lead to a “let-down migraine.” For non-migraineurs and migraineurs alike, it can explain why you wake up sneezing and stuffy the day after you turn that huge homework assignment in.

So maybe, just maybe, this repeated pattern of feeling really fatigued on my days off relates to that—my body has the knowledge that if it just keeps going for a little longer, it will get a well-deserved break. And by that time that break rolls around, my body’s like, “Oh, yeahhhhh.  I’m going to just put my feet up and relax, and you’re going to have a really hard time waking me up at all, let alone keeping me awake and alert!”

Perhaps it’s not the case I outlined above. Perhaps I am really in tune with my body and decide in advance to take a day off because I can tell that I am about to run very low on energy. Perhaps I am subconsciously able to detect when I am going to crash and I prepare by deciding when to take a day or afternoon off.

Do any of you identify with this question? Please share your experiences below! 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • NatJen
    3 years ago

    It has been amazing to me to find this website and the articles found within. I finally have found a community of people who understand, and in them explaining themselves and their everyday life, I truly identify and have ahhah! moments.
    This is one of them. I work a full time highly active job and I have a regularly scheduled 1 day off a week. I too have grandiose plans on what all I want to accomplish on that particular day off: errands, household work, relaxtion, volunteer work, time with family or friends, my arts & crafts, reading & study, the list goes on and on. But I too frequently find my body and mind not quite lining up. I’m mentally ambitious but my body energy levels are way more realistic and usually low. It’s like I have to ration my energy portions for the week according to the known circumstances. It can sometimes be super frustrating and I have to balance out the feelings of guilt with the reality of the matter. Excepting that you have limitations when you have so much ambition to accomplish multiple things is a real daily challenge. I’m glad to know there are others out there trying to do their personal best too. Do what you can, when you can, don’t fret the rest. 🙂

  • Stace31601
    4 years ago

    I call it borrowing energy from tomorrow. So when we do stop, we realize how exhausted we are because we had been borrow energy from tomorrow. It has helped me in my daily life. I have started asking myself am I borrowing energy from tomorrow, do I need to be doing that or could it wait for tomorrow. It helps me manage my day a little better and what is important. It really helps me not beat myself up when I am tired. I remind myself that I borrowed time from today for yesterday because I had something that was important to get done.

  • RachelRoo
    4 years ago

    Yes, me too! I teach preschool, which definitely is trying on the migraine brain, and often on the weekends I have the worst time getting out of bed. I’ve stopped for the time being planning ‘weekend warrior’ adventures like taking my daughter out to museums or the zoo, and just spending time with her at home where I can relax more. There’s guilt to fight, but when my body is demanding that extra rest I’d rather listen than be put completely out of commission for days on end. I’m not sure that my brain or body would ‘know’ subconsciously that Saturday and Sunday allow for some leeway in when I get dressed and if I leave the house, but something just doesn’t shove me to pop up and get in the car when I know I don’t have to. Only the worst headache, or the ones with nausea, keep me in on a work day.

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