Let’s Talk About Sleep!

Let’s Talk About Sleep!

By: Veronica Stang, Registered Provisional Psychologist

 

I realize that sleep has become a luxury for many due to busy schedules. We’ve all had those nights; tossing and turning, getting up in the middle of the night for a snack, checking the clock at 2am – then again at 2:03 when it felt like three hours had passed. Then you start doing math at 4 o’clock in the morning and telling yourself, “If I fall asleep at this exact moment, I will still get 3 hours and 15 minutes of sleep”, but you have already started subtracting the seconds that you are still awake. For some people, this dreadful experience only happens on occasion; for others, it is a nightly sparring match with the sandman.

I frequently discuss with clients the importance of good sleep and how to improve both quality and quantity of sleep. Take a moment to reflect on the following things to yourself: how many hours of undisturbed sleep do you get?  Is it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, and/or wake up? What is your nighttime routine? Typically the responses I get are fairly negative. The most common problem is not being able to fall asleep and stay asleep. Consider some of the following do’s and don’ts to improve your own sleep:

DO:

  • Have a consistent nighttime routine
  • Exercise daily
  • Have a consistent time to go to bed and wake up (even on weekends, within reason)
  • Go to bed only when you are tired
  • Get out of bed if you can’t sleep
  • Get regular exposure to sunlight
  • Set aside time throughout your day to problem solve, worry, and plan (i.e. think about all those things that keep you up at night)
  • Do something relaxing before bed (meditate, read, take a bath)
  • Consider your physical environment (bedroom darkness, temperature, mattress comfort and noises)

DON’T:

  • Spend too much time awake in bed
  • Watch television, eat, play video games etc. in bed. Your body becomes conditioned to what you do in bed
  • Have multiple naps or long naps during the day
  • Exercise late in the evening (if it energizes you)
  • Have caffeinated drinks in the evening
  • Have large meals late at night
  • Be in front of screens late at night: this can impact our circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms influence bodily functions including our sleep-wake cycles, hormone release (such as melatonin for sleep), eating habits, digestion, and body temperature

Why is sleep so important? 

  • Cell regeneration
  • Restoring energy
  • Consolidating memories
  • Strengthening our immune system
  • Increasing blood supply to muscles which promotes growth and repair of tissue and bones

All of these processes assist with our daily functions such as learning and emotional regulation.

NOT enough sleep is linked to conditions such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Based on all of the benefits it provides, it is easy to see why sleep is important for everyone. With that being said, I work with many children and individuals with chronic pain. These populations are in need of additional sleep in order for their bodies and brains to heal, restore and grow; however, they often struggle to attain even the requested minimum. I cannot emphasize enough how important sleep is for mental and physical health, especially within these vulnerable populations.

I encourage you to adapt some of these strategies into your own lifestyle. I know sleep can be a frustrating endeavour, but try not to become discouraged. It will take trial and error to discover what works best for you. Good luck and sweet dreams!

 

Resources

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/what-happens-when-you-sleep

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/why-do-we-need-sleep

Top Tips on How To Increase Productivity At Home During Isolation

Top Tips on How To Increase Productivity At Home During Isolation

By: Blake and Jen Goehring – PTs and Owners

 

The last several weeks have turned all of our worlds upside down and have sent us through a roller coaster of emotions. With very little notice, most of us have been forced to drastically change our daily routines. At our most recent virtual meeting with our colleagues, we had multiple people express that they felt like they were working many hours, putting time in, but not feeling productive. Does anyone else relate to this?

We spent some time debriefing and connecting about this “lack of productivity” in our meeting. Being new business owners, entrepreneurs and full-time physiotherapists over the last two years, we have found ourselves in an ongoing routine of bringing much of our work into our home. Together, we have had to learn how to be productive with a make-shift home office, as well as how to define the start and end of work time to transition into normal home life. This has been no easy feat!

Today, we want to share our top tips on how to increase productivity at home, while also not blurring the lines between work and personal life.

#1. Get dressed! 

Consider today a work day. What is your normal routine? Get yourself up, showered, teeth brushed, and put your work clothes on. Working from home doesn’t give you free reign to stay in your pajamas all day. Feeling and looking good will make you feel more ready to start your work day!

#2. Set up your work space. 

Set up your new office space to make it feel like a work zone. Wherever you choose to do this, make sure it does not have a dual purpose for the duration of your work hours. For example, if you choose to set up at your kitchen table, then your office space during your working hours cannot also be where you and your family eat. Once your workstation is cleaned up, then it can go back to being the family eating area. Consider this no matter where you set up. Your couch – not for relaxation time. Your island – not for prepping and cooking food. Your kid’s bedroom – not for play and nap time. After hours, these areas can go back to their initial function!

#3: Get organized.

Start your work day off by going through your normal routine, like checking emails and messages. Then write everything out that needs to be accomplished today on a to-do list.

#4. Set clear, realistic goals. 

Try to complete three to five things per day. This means you need to look at your to-do list in the morning and prioritize your tasks.

#5. Avoid distractions. 

Working at home means you might have alerts coming from your computer, watch, phone, kids, spouses and potentially even your next door neighbor. Have set times where you check your email – first thing in the morning, just before lunch, and prior to being done with your work day. If a task comes up from an email, simply put it on the to-do list vs. answering it immediately. The same principle applies to checking your personal phone – have set intervals where you look at it. If it’s a personal message, respond during your allocated break. If it’s work related, put the task item on the to-do list and circle back to it. The formula below is not backed by science, but makes a lot of sense to us!

Checking your phone repeatedly = instant gratification = reduced productivity

#6. Take your normal breaks. 

Breaks are essential during your work day, as it gives you a chance to relax, refocus and re-energize. Take your allocated coffee and lunch breaks. Ensure you follow the same time limit (15-60 minutes) and get back to your work afterwards. Our suggestion would be to include activity or movement in every break you take in order to stimulate your body!

#7. Be flexible. 

We know many of you have others invading your work environment right now – school aged kids, little kids, pets, etc. Your work hours might shift during this crisis and that’s OK! If you feel that these distractions are becoming overwhelming and impairing your ability to be productive, consider setting boundaries with everyone.

#8. Clean up your workstation at the end of your work day (especially if it is a “make-shift” office).

Put everything away – your computer, papers, pens, mugs… If it is out of sight, it is out of mind. Your work day is finished and now it is time for you or family time! Plus, tomorrow you might want to set up your workstation elsewhere for a change of scenery.

These tips are simply suggestions and strategies you might want to implement, as they have worked for us! We know that the weeks behind us and the weeks that lie ahead are unusual. These are exceptional circumstances; new and unknown. It is OK that you might feel a bit lost, slightly less productive, and potentially exhausted. We are all there with you!

Stride’s Top 5 Things To Do At Home To Make Time For Care

 

Welcome to our blog, Stride Family! This is a platform that we have always wanted to use – to connect, share and support our community of followers. It seemed most appropriate to get this project started during these unprecedented and challenging times. Our aim is to provide you with insight, guidance, education and at-home health tips about a variety of topics over the coming months.

Given our current global circumstances and the COVID-19 pandemic, we know many people are navigating through new and tough emotions – lost, scared, nervous, bored, restless… The list goes on.

Top 5 Things To Do At Home To Make Time For Care

By: Jen Goehring – PT and Co-Owner

 

Today, I am going to provide you with my Top 5 things to do at home to make #timeforcare (especially during quarantine)!

TIP #1: Schedule time for YOU! Yes, YOU!

This tip may seem self-explanatory, but when is the last time you had one hour to yourself? One hour that wasn’t interrupted by others and you consciously did what you wanted to do, guilt-free. Like many of us, you are likely drawing a blank…

Most of us are so scheduled and routine based, we follow a jam-packed calendar to a tee with little wiggle room if something unexpected comes up. Between work, social events, family gatherings, medical appointments, extra-curriculars, kids activities (and the list goes on), we barely have enough hours during the day to get our checklists complete. Just like you scheduled all of those events in your planner, consider scheduling TIME FOR YOU. Try this: Book a ONE hour per day timeslot in your planner – this is blank space for you. Make this promise to yourself… Do not fill the time with anything else. Seriously, this is less than 5% of your day! You can do anything for YOU – do NOTHING, read, journal, meditate, watch a TV show, call a friend or listen to music. As long as you are doing something that makes you HAPPY with no strings attached.

TIP #2: Learn how to say “NO”. 

I understand that you have probably heard this tip before and thought it made sense. But the real question is, how do you implement this into your daily life? I once heard something that deeply resonated with me to help make this decision easier: “In life, there are 3 things – ‘have’ to’s, ‘want’ to’s and ‘should’ do’s’”. Anything that fell into the “have to” category was an obligation and something that was important to attend. The “want to’s” were definite yes’s, as it is something that you would choose to do. The invitation for the “should do’s” are automatically ditched – with no guilt, no obligation and for something you didn’t really want to participate in anyway. Brilliant!

In order to say NO, you must also prioritize your current responsibilities and set boundaries in your relationships. Consider this: saying “yes” to an invite or activity might mean saying “no” to or backing out of something else that it is already on your plate. Most of the time, we are all functioning with what we consider a full plate. We do not want to add anything additional to our task list because by committing, something else in our life will suffer. Think before you agree to anything!

TIP #3: MOVE.

This seems simple, but it is amazing how much a little movement can give you energy, alter your mindset and bring positive vibes! Movement does not have to be a traditional work-out. In fact, it can come in many different forms – walking, dancing, stretching, running, biking, changing positions, jumping… Find something that you enjoy doing. Make sure you move at least once per hour! You should also consider getting outside for some fresh air!

TIP #4: SLEEP. 

Yes, I know you have heard this before – sleep is essential for both physical and mental healing. And it’s accurate because research consistently shows this to be true! How do you implement good sleep strategies? Here’s a thought – you likely set an alarm for the morning to ensure that you wake up on time, right? Well, how about setting yourself an alarm to get yourself in bed at night? A lot of us typically get distracted at night and start activities late without even knowing what time it is. Having an alarm clock in the evening will help you to stop whatever you are doing and start focusing on your nighttime routine. A better nighttime routine will likely drive a better sleep and a better morning! I know most of you have well established morning routines, so now I challenge you to do the same in the evenings.

TIP #5: UNPLUG! 

We are all guilty of spending too much time using technology. In today’s world, technology is all around us – TVs, computers, tablets, phones, even watches. We have never been more accessible than we are right now; especially during this time when most of us are working and connecting with people virtually. But we also all spend a lot of “wasted” time scrolling through social media feeds, watching videos or shows, checking emails, texting, etc. It has been extremely well researched that our screen time is negatively impacting our sleep, relationships and mental health.

I challenge you to commit to TWO things:

1. Unplug completely. At least for a short period of time daily. Put your phone or watch in a different room, put your computer away and turn the TV off. Seriously, this is what freedom could feel like… Plus, it gives you time to connect with yourself or the people living under your same roof.

2. Set screen times for yourself. A lot of people set screen times for kids and students, but do you abide by this yourself? Put limits on your scrolling and checking of your devices. Consider doing something productive that needs to be done, like cooking dinner or starting laundry, then feel free to give yourself a few minutes reward of checking social media (if you’re so inclined).

It is important to remember that making time for yourself is not a one-time thing. These tips do not just apply to quarantine time. Self-care is an ongoing, daily and weekly task. Your strategies may evolve and change over time, but eventually implementing these small habits becomes a part of our regular, routine lives. This will likely lead to feeling happier, healthier and more balanced!