Sleepless in Kawartha…






As if COVID-19 has not wreaked enough havoc with our mental and physical health, it may also be impacting our sleep!

I have personally never been one to suffer from insomnia, however, the combination of added stress and disrupted routine appears to have taken a toll on our sleep.  It really should not come as a surprise to any of us; after all, lacking routine, working from home and setting our own schedules may tempt us into staying up late for some additional screen time or taking that mid-afternoon nap.  Obviously that alone can disrupt our sleep patterns sufficiently, but then add the extra stress and anxiety about our health, money or loved ones and it is little wonder that sleep neurologists have coined the term COVID-somnia.

But don’t despair, whilst we may not be able to remove the cause for the anxiety at this time, we can mitigate the resulting sleep loss.  I first wrote about the need for good sleep in 2016 and the ways to find it are no different during a Pandemic than they were then, some just require a bit more work.  First and foremost of course is exercise and unfortunately that can be difficult if you were previously participating in team sports, swimming or going to the gym, but rather than simply not participating, come up with new ways to exercise.  Go to the lake instead of the pool, use free weights at home or take up a new exercise altogether like yoga, tai-chi or Pilates.

Unless you exercise to the point of exhaustion, that alone will unfortunately not solve your COVID-somnia, however.  As mentioned, many of us have changed or all but eliminated our daily routine.  Gone may be the days of having to rise at 6:00 to head to the office, so why bother going to bed early, right?  Wrong!  We are meant to follow, at least in part, the natural circadian rhythm of nature.  This is why studies have shown poorer health outcomes among shift workers.  Of course nobody expects you to head to bed at dusk; however, maintaining regular times to retire and get up will improve your ability to sleep.  Just heading to bed at a reasonable hour will not ensure your restful sleep if you do so only to watch TV or read on a screen though.  Establish a wind-down routine that tells your body it is time for bed.  We know to do this for our children, think story time, so why do we fail to do so for ourselves?

Aside from simply not being very good for you, drinking alcohol will also disrupt your sleep.  We often tend to think that it will help relax us and assist in the sleep process, but whilst alcohol may help you fall asleep, you will end up getting a far less restful night’s sleep than you would without that nightcap, so go for herbal tea or warm milk instead.

So don’t lose sleep over COVID, dealing with these stressful times is difficult enough without adding insomnia to the mix.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

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