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A poor night’s sleep and fatigue!

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 By now most of us know we are in a pandemic and probably feeling pretty tired of being reminded of that, the potential danger it presents to life and the restrictions we find ourselves living under trying to get it under control, which often means we feel we are walking on shifting sands, as things just seem to keep changing, and we keep needing to adapt, again!

We had lives before the pandemic and perhaps challenges we were dealing with, since the pandemic we may find we have even more challenges, or what we were dealing with before has become even more exhausting or both!

Imagine a car, an amazing car, the finest car ever built, how long do you think that can run if it's not getting fuel, serviced, a chance to rest the engine? Yet, somehow, we think we can run on empty, skipping meals, or, eating things we know we may later regret, as for rest! Go to bed and its either,'' can't sleep'', or, ''waking early'', or ''bizarre dreams'' as our unconscious mind tries to process and make sense of everything which is happening, or'' we are in pain'', 'our mind focuses on things we are worried about''. ''stuff we need to do for work'' ''money worries'', 'worries about the family'' and more…. We are all different and different things can keep us awake at night

We need to sleep, that's the bottom line. Sleep matters for our physical health, our emotional health, and our mental health. When we are properly rested it can help reduce stress even have an impact on feelings of anxiety or low mood. Everyone needs different amounts of sleep, however on average its suggested (NHS Inform)

  • adults: 7 to 9 hours sleep
  • children: 9 to 13 hours sleep
  • toddlers and babies: 12 to 17 hours sleep

The pandemic has caused all sorts of new routines to evolve e.g. working from home, spending more time connecting online than face to face. When we went out to work there was a structure to our day, getting up, dressed ready for work, maybe getting the children ready for school. Heading to work, coming home, familiar routines and set times when we did certain things. 

How many people may be working from home now find there is no real sense of the working day starting or stopping? It all seems to be blending together and as perhaps there are fewer social opportunities, the working day gets longer, and longer, to a point where you begin to feel anxious if you aren't online, in case you miss something, either work or socially related, as the emails, Twitter, Instagram and all the other social/digital platforms ping away demanding our attention? Healthy sleep patterns are supported by healthy and familiar routines and at the moment our routines often find they keep changing. 

Healthy sleep is also supported by reducing stimulus so our mind can wind down and rest. Is it a surprise with all that is happening that this may be affecting our sleep quality?

There can be many other reasons why we find a restful sleep a challenge and this may have been an issue before the pandemic, just recent events have exacerbated it. This piece is a general wellbeing promotion and does not replace professional advice. Some links you may find helpful:

  1. Tips for healthier routines http://www.cope-scotland.org/index.php/latest-blog/healthy-routines-lead-to-healthier-habits
  2. Information on essential oils http://www.cope-scotland.org/index.php/latest-blog/the-scented-sitooterie
  3. Finding new ways to express ourselves http://www.cope-scotland.org/index.php/latest-blog/ideas-for-how-creativity-can-improve-our-mental-health
  4. Creating positive affirmations to support healthier sleep http://www.cope-scotland.org/index.php/latest-blog/changing-the-script
  5. Tips to help reduce the suffering of chronic pain http://www.cope-scotland.org/index.php/latest-blog/wee-tips-to-help-reduce-suffering-caused-by-chronic-pain
  6. Seasonal affective disorder and low mood in winter http://www.cope-scotland.org/index.php/videos/video/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad
  7. Tips to deal with 'what if's and uncertainty' http://www.cope-scotland.org/index.php/latest-blog/dealing-with-the-what-if-s

If you have some specific challenges in your life which are affecting your sleep explore what services or opportunities are around locally which may help you address them. If you have experienced trauma and are having flashbacks speak to your GP about services which can help you. 

We often think there is no support or opportunities out there, but it's amazing how when we start to look at what we can find. Check out the 'whit's happening' magazines on the site for some ideas on services and supports available,

We have also produced this ''Wee tips to a better night's sleep'' information sheet. There are also some really good videos on YouTube with sounds of the ocean, have a visit and find one which you enjoy.

Studies by Orfeu Buxton, an associate professor of biobehavioural health at Penn State University, suggest, we all have a flight or fight response, abrupt noises can wake us up and put us on full alert, if you find it hard to sleep, you will find being wakened like this can make it harder to get back to sleep. Noises like the sea are non-threatening sounds, which vary in volume so are less abrupt and more likely to lull you back to sleep. 

For more information on this study follow this link which will take you away from this site. https://www.livescience.com/53403-why-sound-of-water-helps-you-sleep.html

Other sites which may be worth visiting:

https://www.sleepio.com/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/insomnia/ which includes a sleep self-assessment

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/

''When you have trouble sleeping, follow your breathing in and breathing out. Bring your awareness to the different parts of your body in turn and allow them to relax''. – Thich Nhat Hanh. 

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