Coronavirus 2020: Insomnia Edition

When my team was asked to work from home starting mid March (with a tentative return date of April 8th — we’re still at home), my initial reaction towards The Whole Thing was to sleep. A lot.

I thought it was catching up on sleep debt, since I do tend to struggle getting my 8 hours in for various reasons.

Around the beginning or mid April, my tendency to sleep gave way towards insomnia.

I’ve had issues with insomnia before. Normally, what I do to fix it, is get an over the counter sleep aid. That’s what I did last December when I got it — but…I never stopped using it because I was sleeping 8 hours, was dreaming, kind of everything how I thought sleep was supposed to go, and that I didn’t get even when I didn’t have the insomnia.

The over the counter sleep meds stopped working a bit ago. When I wanted to see how much of a dose would be an overdose, it wasn’t on the label. I googled, found out it was a kind of benadryl, and I was not happy for how long I had been taking it.

It wasn’t working anyway at this point. I would take a full dose, wake up or not get to sleep at all and bad nights.

Needless to say, April and so far May (how has May for ten days been a thing? How has it been since six days since the Siege of Mandalore and the series finale of the Clone Wars? How?) have been quite difficult for me.

In the past, walking a few hours before bed did tend to help. But I was also able to box regularly at the gym (I do try to shadowbox at least once a week, though I’ve been aiming for more), I was climbing stairs, walking to help my coworkers, etc. I also mowed the lawn for the landlady every Saturday–I don’t live there anymore and I have no lawn.

I think I’ve identified my insomnia taking two forms:

1) a lack of feeling tired that can be exacerbated by naps. Normally, taking a nap before 3 pm was fine for me. Now, I’m wondering if it’s even earlier. It is very hard not to take a nap during the day when the night was sleepless so this has been a losing battle (including today where I did accidentally fall asleep for two hours in the early afternoon).

2) I am able to fall asleep but I wake consistently after 4 or 5 hours. I haven’t yet been able to figure out what wakes me up–regardless, I’m unable to fall asleep again even if I’m yawning with exhaustion.

Last night was a mixture of both — I napped too late, causing me not to feel sleepy until after midnight, and I woke up after five.

I do want to try walking again as that did help, and even though I have upped my activity level when I realized my insomnia wasn’t going away,  it hasn’t immediately improved which is unusual.

So, here is what I’m going to do, to the best of my ability, for the month of May.

  • Caffeine has zero effect on me. I drink coffee because I like the taste and ritual. In the past, I have drunk coffee with dinner regularly and slept well. I’m arbitrarily choosing no caffeine past 1 pm. Goes to show how desperate I am.
  • I will walk an hour before shift start. This will probably around 7 or so. I’ll start listening to my audio books again, something I stopped doing during quarantine because I listened to most of my audio books during my commute.
  • Starting at 9:55 through 4:55, I’ll be using the last five minutes of the hour to do an activity: jog in place, hula hoop, squats, lunges, burpees, jumping jacks, dumbbell exercises, pushups, etc.
  • No later than 5:30 pm, MWF will be my shadow boxing time for 45 mins. T/TH/Sat will be jogging outside for 45 minutes (I need to work up to being able to jog that long lol).

This will need some adjustment when we’re in the office, but I think the idea is clear. I’m wondering if my lack of movement throughout the day is somehow tricking my body it’s sleeping even if I’m working.

I’ve always worked towards a 9 pm – 5 am sleep schedule. Missed this today but I want to do a relaxing yoga routine at 7 pm, and then avoid anything that has the potential to upset me. No social media. No checking work. I may add no tv, but the likelihood of that happening is small. Either way, after 7, I’ll either be reading a book, writing, or playing a video game. At least an hour has to be for reading a book.

When I wake up at 5, my hope is to get the cats fed, coffee started, my puzzles to wake my brain up, and write until 7. If I wake up earlier, I am contemplating simply starting my day and seeing if I can grab a nap before shift start.

I’m hoping this plan ensures that I’ll be mentally and physically tired. My body will be encouraged to enter a deep, uninterrupted sleep. I’ll give it the month of May before I consider seeking a doctor. I don’t really want to look for a doctor during plague times, but I also think they’ll diagnose me with stress like they always do.

You may notice my schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time for cooking and eating. I have a lot of quickly cooked foods due to the pandemic, and I’m used to eating at my desk or in front of the tv. If I do plan to cook a meal, that is most easily done on weekends.

One of the other changes I’ll be making will be to eat a light meal I know is safe for my stomach after my boxing/run. Heavier meals will be early in the day.

It’s very tempting to diet right now, but that is one thing I won’t be doing. The last time I committed to dieting and exercising at these levels had very unfortunate consequences. The only thing I’ll be doing is avoiding foods I know will cause gastro upset (except for ice cream because HD’s boozy ice creams are literally the best thing ever). But is that dieting or just good sense?

Putting this here for accountability purposes. It’s easy to say one will do things–and the times makes it easy to fall into a personal pit of despair. But one must try, right?

Coronavirus 2020: Opening Too Early (My Non Expert Opinion)

Time, always an illusion, feels even more so now.

I read the news every week, and I am unsure that my governor wants to do a phased reopening of the state. People warn that the second wave of Spanish Flu was more dangerous than the first. That story keeps popping up.

Are we done with the first wave? It doesn’t feel like it, reading the news.

My gym sent a mass email letting everyone know that the governor gave them permission to reopen in May.

I managed to get off my ass this morning and shadow box — interval training. 3 minutes boxing with 1 minute rest, just like in the gym.

I pushed myself too hard since my exercise has been patchy. I huffed and I puffed and you know how sometimes you breathe so hard that you spit? That happened.

Do we remember the main way the virus travels?

Through respiratory droplets.

I thought before that I would ask them to freeze my subscription in May. I knew, this morning, that there would be absolutely no way I would step foot inside.

I am going through so much soap. A lot of places are sold out of soap. I suppose it means the rest of the world is doing their part, but a germaphobe on the best days, washing my hands until they crack and bleed because what if I missed a spot, this has been a doozy.

Handwashing loops, I call them. Was that 20 seconds? Was the water hot enough? Does soap lose effectiveness the longer it goes on? Maybe do a new pump 10 seconds in, 20 seconds in.

I get shower loops too. These are much more irrational and ten times more irritating.

I entered the living room clutching pasta — cheese, butter, garlic, shell noodles, and smelled one of my cat’s poop in the air. I glanced down at my food. Was it contaminated? Should I eat it? Should I throw it away? If I can smell the poop does that mean it’s in the air? You can’t decontaminate the air. You can’t scrub it with soap and lysol.

It took me about 5 minutes to convince myself to eat my pasta and that I was being irrational.

Those moments of intense irrationality regarding personal cleanliness happen more frequently now.

And yes, I eat pasta now. Regularly.

For context, I struggle with my weight. I axed pasta from my grocery lists long before I tried the keto diet. That was right around the time I axed bread and cereal. If I were in a restaurant and there wasn’t a good steak and tater option, I would order pasta but it wasn’t something I kept in the house.

I didn’t lose weight. I lost a little joy.

So what do you do in quarantine when the unknown is all around even though you’re surrounded by the walls of your house, grateful you still have a job but chafing nonetheless?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I eat pasta.

Coronavirus 2020: Misc Thoughts

2020 been a year right?

And it’s only April.

The first quarter of the year is usually difficult anyway. It’s the busy season at work. I usually end up working well over 40 hours, and I have a very difficult time drawing and maintaining boundaries at work–at first, it was because I wanted to prove myself and get that promotion, and then I got the promotion and it morphed into doing the very best I could do and being the very best I could be for my employees.

So it is unfortunately, terribly easy for my own personal goals (writing every day, reading every day, boxing every day) to be first up on the chopping block.

This quarter hasn’t been any different.

I finished Gideon The Ninth (please read this book) and I was so excited that I had finished an actual, tangible book. I have primarily been listening to audio books on my commute, and in the silence, reading a physical book was difficult as my internal whisper can be deafening.

I was really, really proud of myself for that.

Anyway, shortly after I finished Gideon, I became more cognizant of the COVID-19 news. I was aware of the virus, but I had not been keeping a close tab on it.

I had just discovered a new pho place. I had also discovered a darling coffee shop. They became my weekend sanctuary after a work week, where I quickly found myself working seven days a week at the end of February that lasted about two weeks when I realized I was experiencing a slow death of the soul.

About a day after that, my work advised that we were all to work from home until at least April 8th. That timeline is no longer on the table, of course, but this was mid-March.

So my team and I switched entirely to remote. That was hard. It is hard. I believe a return in May is even optimistic.

At first, I had the same grand delusions: gonna finish that book, start that fantasy series I’ve been thinking about since January, gonna lose that weight, gonna read that other book.

I have done none of those things. Without a commute to structure my day, it is even harder for me to not reach for my computer when I wake up in the morning to check up on things.

Never though I’d miss the commute.

I struggle with wondering if I should order takeout to support local restaurants or if I should stick only to curbside pickup for my grocery shopping. People need work, but even essential employees need to stay home for their safety.

There is no right answer, and I pendulum swing from “no takeout ever” to ordering takeout. I know the problems that make things difficult for the working class is a systematic issue. It’s not my fault, but there is an element of complicity that I’m finding difficult to navigate.

My boxing club froze my membership when the governor closed all nonessential businesses.

I haven’t exercised in weeks.

Exhaustion, despite doing nothing but staying home, lingers. My insomnia is back which I’ve been treating with over the counter sleep aids. I was reading the back of the bottle a couple weeks back, and apparently I’m supposed to be using it for two weeks or so. I’ve been using it since December.

I have written maybe 30 minutes.

I have not read. Nor have I finished an audio book.

I am one of the lucky ones. As of today, I still have my job but I know we are buckling up. We are bracing for April…and May…and for however long this will last.

My dad constantly reminds me that we must take this day by day.

I will try.