Those of us who work sitting at a desk have had days when we’re so exhausted by the time we get home, we just want to pass out. But our jobs aren’t physical, so why are we so worn out after a day at the office? Turns out, it’s “mental fatigue.”
According to science, we get that bone-tired feeling after a stressful day of sitting at work because it’s just as tiring as exercise. Mental fatigue can can exhaust us because we’re overworking our brains, the same way a long run leaves you feeling drained.
When our bodies respond to something mentally taxing, like feeling stressed, they respond the same way they do to a physically taxing task. “Your heart will pump and you’ll produce adrenaline whether somebody’s chasing you, or you’re just really upset about something,” explains Dr. Steven Feinsilver, director of sleep medicine at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital.
He says our brains always use a lot of energy, but our muscles only suck the oxygen out of us when we’re exercising. So if your desk job leaves you wiped out, go ahead and cancel your plans for the night. Science says it’s okay.