It’s only a few weeks of being back in Ontario and I can already feel the sense of calm contentment slipping that had settled over me in New Brunswick.
It’s partly that I know more about what to do here, where to go, who to see and there is just more of those things and so little time to do them!
Thanks to my partner, we had taken a bit of a tourist’s view of New Brunswick and we are looking to bring that with us in London. If you only had a weekend here, what would you do? Where would you go?
So we are making plans to see more sections of the Thames Valley Trail. Walking has remained our foundational activity, rain or shine.
It’s low cost, low equipment and easy to just get up and go!
Last Saturday we accidentally walked 10 km of the North Branch so I could see the beautiful new path and bridges. It’s along the river and through the southern portions of property owned by The Sisters of St Joseph, Scouts Canada and the Ivy Leadership Centre. It’s beautiful.
I’m grateful we have both cultivated enough mobility to spontaneously go on a decent walk. Good shoes help as well as all the little walks we do each day.
My legs are strong and flexible, my feet feel good, it’s nice to be a pedestrian tourist and see new sides of the city I’ve lived in for 16 years.
So I’m working on staying in the moment, carefully leaving unspoken for time in my life and scheduling time with friends.
I’m the Nap Queen. Sleep is my super power. I prioritize rest. These are some of the songs I sing on the blog.
La La La.
But lately it feels more like…
Blah. Blah. Blah.
I have a very stressful job and lately I haven’t been sleeping that well. I’m worrying a lot.
So I have been tired and also some days, not feeling much like hard exercise. I mean, I’m still working out. I still bike commute. I still throw a little yoga in here and there. I walk Cheddar and I do some rowing on the erg. But my passion for big. heavy lifting or long efforts on the bike? Nope. Nada.
That’s very not me. So I’ve been listening to the voice that says ‘more rest.’ I’m going to bed early.
But it hasn’t really been helping. I’m sleeping but I am not sleeping that well. Stress and heat are both factors but also without the serious exercise, I’m just not that tired.
One thing that’s occurred to me that is that I use exercise to burn off stress and it makes me tired. The combo makes for an excellent night’s sleep. I slept my best during the pandemic when I was zwifting 5 or 6 nights a week. If I’m too tired to work out, I don’t exercise in the evening and then I have a crappy night’s sleep.
Listening to your body doesn’t always mean more rest. Sometimes the message is more complicated than that.
I’m going to try exercising even when I don’t feel like it, knowing I’ll feel better after. I’m usually the sort of person who uses exercises as a reward. It’s a fun thing that I do. I might have to change my thinking a bit.
I’m going to also look for some non exercise stress relief. I’ve got Adriene’s Find What Feels Good app on my phone and I might see what night time yoga and meditation do for my sleep.
Recommended soundtrack: Breathing Underwater by Metric
Folks I recently had the great joy and privilege to come home to New Brunswick after not seeing family & friends for 2 years due to travel restrictions to mitigate COVID 19.
Some Canadians, especially those of us born on the East Coast and who live somewhere else, love a good road trip. I certainly do, having made the trek from Ontario to New Brunswick regularly since 1993. Ya. That’s a lot of kilometers friends, roughly 1,600 km each way!
I was nervous about being on major highways after an 18 month hiatus. I hadn’t left London since Christmas 2019. I was worried about how achy I would be, but especially how tired I would get.
But then something unexpected happened, I didn’t get bone tired. I didn’t reach for coffee the first leg of the drive. It was after 6pm and we drove from London, Ontario to Brockville. It’s roughly 5 hours and a third of the way. It makes the second day much more reasonable.
We arrived later than expected because traffic and life. But. I wasn’t dead tired.
The next morning I got up, packed and was on the road for an hour before we grabbed coffees and breakfast. So. Weird.
The thing is, for almost 30 years, I was the walking dead in the morning. Frighteningly tired. Every. Morning.
So I drank coffee, a lot of it. I blamed a weak will, a hedonistic personality, and a myriad of other character flaws because “everyone knows” caffeine addiction makes for terrible mornings.
But. Uh. Folks. There’s something that changed since my last road trip, regular use of a CPAP machine.
It wasn’t an easy transition. I’m now thinking I’m almost to neutral about wearing it, which is tremendous progress. I definitely don’t love it but now I am appreciative of its slow but steady support of my sleep and rest.
I still love coffee but I can wait a few hours in the morning. I have become a bit of a morning person. No one is more surprised than I!
So when we drove into my parents’ dooryard I arrived tired but not a mess. It was such a huge change. I don’t know I would have noticed if it hadn’t been so long since I had a road trip and enough CPAP time to recover from a lifetime of sleep deficits.
So I am grateful for the insight and the impact of my daily sleep routine.
As you emerged from restrictions this year did you notice something new?
The months are weirdly flying by. I’m excited about spring and making plans for outdoor summer things–bike ride weekends, canoe trips, Snipe racing. I feel like I’ve got a focus now for all my fitness efforts that goes beyond mental health and beyond the thinking that exercise is one of the few fun things left that I can do. I’m in training for an active outdoor summer, doing fun things with family and friends. And I am so looking forward to that.
It wasn’t all success though. There were some fitness struggles too. The big one is slack of sleep. Work got way too busy and I’m behind on sleep. I’m moving lots but not bringing the same energy to it that I once did. March I’ve decided will be different. I’m making sleep promises to myself.
I’m sure I’ll feel better when the days get longer, when the sun shines more, when I can be outside with colleagues, family, and friends but right now I am feeling pretty tired and I’m dragging myself through some of my days. Work is hard and I miss so many people. Bah.
I’ve noticed, thanks to my Garmin watch, that I am sleeping less and less, like often 6 hours a night. I’m pretty hardwired to sleep 8 hours a night. That gap is too big to make up with naps.
Again, I’m not sure why I can know something is true–sleep and spending time outside make me happy–but I can still struggle to do it. I need remind myself that it helps a lot with my performance on the bike as well as my happiness and well being. See Is Sleep the Most Underrated Hack for Performance Enhancement?
Looking ahead to March I’ll likely get to experience my first outdoor ride on my road bike–that’s usually a March thing and some more dog hikes with family and friends and work colleagues. All good!
The ads in my digital media news feeds know what I’m up to. Which is to say staying at home, working from home, exercising at home, spending time with family, and napping. I’m also dressing differently now my life is one big blur of working, exercising, doomscrolling, eating, sleeping etc.
Enter the nap dress. I swear ads for different versions of this dress make up half of the advertising I see these days.
Rachel Syme writes, “Since sleeping through the night was not happening, I figured an outfit specifically designated for daytime dozing might be just the thing. One could theoretically wear a Nap Dress to bed, but it is decidedly not a nightgown. (For one, it is opaque enough to wear to the grocery store.) It is not the same thing as a caftan, which, though often luxurious, is more shapeless and more grown-up. It is not a housedress, which we tend to associate with older women shuffling onto the stoop to grab the morning paper, the curlers still in their hair. A housedress is about forgetting the self, or at least hiding it under layers of quilted fabric. The Nap Dress, on the other hand, suggests a cheeky indulgence for one’s body, and a childlike return to waking up bleary-eyed hours before dinner.”
In “The Uneasy Privilege Of The Daytime Nightgown,” Veronique Hyland talks about the politics of who gets to wear a daytime nap dress during the pandemic. It’s not frontline workers, grocery store clerks, transit workers, and people driving UberEats to pay rent.
“I can appreciate the aesthetic appeal of a nightgown. I get that they’re comfortable, and who doesn’t crave comfort right now? It’s possible that I’m projecting way too much onto a few yards of fabric. But the nightgown, especially as daywear, strikes me as reactionary. Its evocations of passive Victorian and pre-Raphaelite femininity feel like an uncritical throwback to those eras’ mold of white female fragility. The styling of these images evokes sleeping beauties or Ophelias, or worse, invalids. Fashioning yourself as a tubercular Victorian might once have felt ironic; with millions in the grip of a real pandemic—one that is disproportionately affecting Black and brown communities—it feels Marie Antoinette-at-the-Hameau-level out of touch. And in 2020, the idea of “checking out” and into the seductive world of blameless slumber that the nightgown invites us to, does too. It serves as a reminder that while some people are taking to the streets, others are taking to their beds.”
This is me, happy napping, at the end of a long work day.
I don’t know about you but COVID-19 and #wfhlife hasn’t been great for my sleep. I can always fall asleep…see the comic below, it’s me….but I’ve been having nightmares and sometimes waking up way too early. I fall asleep quickly but if I wake I struggle to get back to sleep.
Another sleep complication is that my Zwift races tend to be late, 830 and 900 pm often and they’re all an hour or an hour and a half long. After it’s hard to relax and go to sleep right away. I’m still all zoom zoom, go go, for at least another hour.
Enter the post work nap!
Work. Nap. Supper. Zwift. Sometimes I go back to work after. Shhh! But more often I watch an episode of something and go to sleep. I’m getting more than 8 hours sleep, averaging 8.5 according to my Garmin watch, even if it’s not all in one go.
This would be more challenging if we had children at home but these days we’re empty nesters. Napping in the nest, that’s me.
Has the pandemic changed your sleep patterns at all? Are you struggling a bit with disrupted sleep?
Maybe it’s the Aikido influence but I think beginnings and endings really matter. This post focuses on beginnings. I am a fan of start as you mean to continue. I enjoy my mornings. I do some of my best writing in the morning. I love it when I have time to exercise in the morning. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I love my bike ride to work. But as we move into darker days getting going can be a challenge.
I love the gradual lightning of the room. I like the bright light at 6 am. If I’m well rested the light alone is enough to wake me. I wasn’t sure how it would work if I was not getting enough sleep. Answer: it didn’t really. Instead, I was woken up by the back up sound alarm. That was much less enjoyable but I’m glad it’s there.
“I’m having a busy start of the university year and I rode my bike in a 100 km Gran Fondo on the weekend. I also slept 10 hours last night.”
I nearly posted that to Facebook in September after a busy weekend but I didn’t. It wasn’t the riding my bike that felt like boasting. It was the sleep!
I thought about all the blog followers and FB friends whose lives don’t allow 10 hours of sleep. I decided not to share.
These days I often go to bed early Sunday evening and begin the week pretty well rested, knowing that I can’t do it every night. I’ve got a lot of privilege in our society. I’ve got a lot of education and an amazing job. But the one privilege that I’m shy about admitting is that I’m often pretty well rested.
I don’t harp about my sleep habits mostly because I don’t want the late night Netflix watchers among you to think that I’m judgey. I’m not. I’m definitely not at all judgey about people with small kids, caring for elderly parents, or working long hard shifts. The thing is for me, I get tired in the evening and I have a hard time staying awake. If I put on Netflix I’d be “zzzzzz” within minutes. I joke that sleep is my super power. I get really tired in the evening and I feel like I can’t stay awake. We talk about the need to prioritize sleep but I often feel that I don’t have a choice.
I read this from the Nap Ministry about developing a sleep practise and I think the going to bed early on Sunday is definitely part of my sleep practice.
” Insight into your faithful Nap Bishop’s rest practice. 1. I do not rush or overbook my calendar. I view my calendar with intuition and I have never been lead astray by my intuition. Rest allows you to connect with what you really feel and know. Grinding keeps you in a cycle of trauma. 2. I will not argue or debate with anyone on social media. You will never worry me. Arguing takes away from time I can use to nap. It is a radical act for a black woman to decide and practice a “no arguing/debate” policy because most people use these platforms to argue and most people assume they have access to black women for this role. The theories of the Nap Ministry have close to 20 years of practice/research and 4 years of graduate studies in one of the top seminaries in country. If you wanna argue or don’t agree, don’t follow and go start your own organization and blog about it. 3. I rest everyday for at least 30 mins to an hour. I book my calendar so that it is possible. I may nap on the couch, stare out a window, rest my eyes while “
What’s your sleep practise look like? Do you have any commitments about sleep like the ones that Nap Bishop makes?
When I shared the story to Facebook, a friend reminded me of the drastic measures taken to stop homeless people from napping in public via hostile architrecture.
Here’s an example.
I remember one time my partner Jeff tried unsuccessfully to spend the night in a park in Florida but was woken when sprinklers came on. They weren’t needed for watering. Their purpose just was keeping people from making the park their overnight home.
So for the rich there’s the privatization and commodification of sleep and for the poor, there’s the policing and forbidding of sleeping.
Feminist philosopher Cressida Heyes describes her feminist sleep project this way, “In 2017 I won a SSHRC Insight Grant for my new project, Sleep is the New Sex. Put simply, I hope to write the first feminist philosophy of sleep. This work continues Anaesthetics of Existence in its focus on liminal states of consciousness and their political consequences, but has a more obviously thematic focus and will be written in a more popular voice.”
We blog about sleep a lot here too. I’ve got lots to say about sleep but the thing that weirds me out the the most is upscale sleep, expensive sleep, sleep with a price tag attached. Fancy sleep.
I’ll get to that in a minute.
Let’s note first that sleep tracks social privilege. For example, black Americans get a lot less sleep than white Americans. In fact, the difference in sleep quantity between the two groups may be enough to explain the difference in life expectancy between the two groups.
“The racial inequalities in the US are stark, but none are more damaging than the health gap between blacks and whites. On average, blacks die at a significantly younger age than whites.”
That important detail out of the way here’s three recent updates from the world of commodified sleep.
First, forget standing desks, napping desks are the next big thing.
Second, Toronto just got its first napping studio. The first adult nap room I encountered was for undergraduate students at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I was a new grad student and I knew that lots of the students, commuters all, led busy lives, taking classes and working, often in shifts that didn’t easily line up. I was happy to see that there was a nap room where you could sign in, nap, and be woken up when you needed to work or go to class. Now they even have nap pods.
Third, I just came back from a weekend in New York. While waiting for a friend, I spied this place, Inscape, a meditation studio in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan that offers “deep rest” classes. You can read more about them here.
Here’s a photo of people in the “deep rest” class.
I can’t imagine paying for napping classes. Spin classes, yes. Yoga, yes. Napping, no. Why does the latter strike me as incredibly privileged and so rich and wasteful while the former options do not? Would you take pricey nap classes?
I much prefer the activist, anti-consumerist approach of the Nap Ministry‘s public nap-ins. or collective nap experiences. “The 2nd Thursday of every month we will be at one of our favorite spaces with a FREE Pop-Up Rest Event. It is a perfect opportunity to experience our programming, meet the Nap Bishop, have a cup of tea, and curl up and rest with cozy yoga mats, pillows and blankets. You can drop in to catch a restorative cat nap or stay for a longer rest. We look forward to seeing you.” Their website includes advice for good places for public napping.