If you’ve seen my recent posts on the gram, you’ll know that I have been suffering from insomnia hard. After a particularly sleepless couple of nights this week, and me expressing that I might be losing my mind, my partner lovingly offered “you know, maybe you should just try getting more exercise” (this is a common solution he offers whenever I am feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or generally not in a good emotional space).
Now this statement, though I know well intentioned (I love you hubby), infuriates me.
First, because I know it to be true. Exercise has been shown to, at least subjectively, increase sleep quality and efficiency, to lower stress, to improve thermoregulatory function, to regulate the circadian rhythm, and to live a more healthy lifestyle overall (eating better, not consuming as much coffee or alcohol, better energy and mental space). This relationship is not lost upon me.
Second, because I am not an INactive person. Though I am not at my peak performance currently (a sedentary job, a lot of commuting, and the dark, wet winter days are not in my corner), I do not consider myself to be unfit. I dance at least once a week, I walk the dog regularly, I always work small active choices into my day (like taking the stairs to the 4th floor and walking when I don’t need to drive). I live in Squamish, a small mountain town in BC, where fitness is simply built in to daily life. But I am certainly not hitting the gym on the regular either.
Third, because sleep and insomnia are much more complex than that. Though exercise does promote sleep in all the ways listed above, it is but one small piece of the psychological struggle that is insomnia. The constant ear worms. The mental loops of anxiety. The fear that no matter how hard you try, you cannot control if/when you are going to finally drift off. It’s all-consuming in those late night hours, both mentally and physically. And while I wish a nice evening run would wash it all away, I know this is unlikely to be the case.
Fourth, and what prompted this post, I have no idea where the hours would come from to take on a more stringent exercise regime. Like so many of you reading this, I am a mom. I have two young children (4 and 2 years old). I work a 30+ hour work week at my “day job” and run a side hustle business in the gaps. I commute 6 hours/ week. Evenings consist of daycare pickup, dinner prep, quality family time followed by bedtime routines. My kids are registered in swimming and skiing and mom/tot dance lessons on the weekends. My fur baby needs some love too. As does my house. My husband and I attempt to carve out time for each other. And for ourselves. Oh and I also love to have some quiet downtime in this crazy whirlwind called life.
So I am simply writing this to all the over-extended mamas out there, who are trying desperately to do it all, being the best mom and wife and friend and worker that you can be, all the while still maintaining some semblance of self, yeah and trying to be healthy along the way. There are legit not enough hours in the day. And you are doing the best you can.
Maybe I should go for a run at 2am…. since I am clearly not sleeping.