As Virginia prepares to reopen in the wake of the viral outbreak, it is important to prepare your mind and body to return to work as well. Now, you may be thinking, “Andy, I can’t wait to get back out there!” I hear you, but I also know from experience that, especially as we age, our ability to turn physical and mentality prowess off and back on like a switch diminishes.

I think back about my life on the farm and in the fields and wonder how we worked like we did. Someone asked me years ago when I first started with Extension if I had worked hard that day, and I answered truthfully: “No …at least not when you compare it to dairy farming.”

I also was asked once while getting my haircut how Andrea and I could go to bed in the summer while the sun was still up? “It’s easy,” I replied, “if you are exhausted!” For 13 years, Miss Andy and I rose at 2:45 a.m. so we could be at the barn to put out hay, sanitize the milking system and begin the morning milking. 

We even employed what we called the “math clock.” We had an alarm clock set 23 minutes ahead so when it went off, you had to look at it and do the math to determine the actual correct time! After running a few numbers in your head, you were awake. 

When the cows were sold, we struggled with resetting our bio-clocks… our lives really, to conform to a new “normal.” Sound familiar? That said, our 13 years of dairying taught us that your schedule was just that, yours. Even on vacation, I would get up and get going early. The transition back to work life was seamless if you never broke the routine in the first place.

We have been operating in an unusual manner for about two months now. Some of us have been idled through no fault of our own, and, during that idleness, may have developed habits that are incompatible with our “normal” routine. You can really do yourself a huge favor by getting back in the swing of things long before the doors of your life reopen. The first place to start is with your sleep patterns because good health depends on restful sleep.

Even though most of us have always heard that we “need eight hours of sleep a night,” it is now known that the amount of sleep a person actually requires for maximal health, well-being, and energy varies widely from person to person. Some people develop a pattern of only two to four hours of sleep per day and function efficiently throughout their lifetimes. If you feel refreshed and relaxed with a total of six hours of sleep per day, then that may be all of the sleep you require.

Unfortunately, stress and worry frequently tend to rob many people of both the quality and quantity of their sleeping hours. Even two days of inadequate sleep can severely alter a person’s judgment, coping behaviors, and physical reaction times. Therefore, you owe it to yourself to be sure you are getting the rest and sleep you need.

Research has shown that the following actions may help you overcome sleepless nights. First, go to bed only when you are sleepy. Stick to a regular routine by getting up at the same time each morning.

Do not take naps. Maintain a regular exercise schedule and do not take alcohol or caffeine before bedtime. To prevent daytime hangover and improve the quality of sleep, avoid the regular use of nonprescription sleeping pills.

If you wake up during the night, get up and do something relaxing until you get sleepy. It will probably make you more tense if you stay in bed and worry about your inability to get to sleep. As crazy as it sounds, if I wake up early or cannot sleep, I try to do something that I was planning to do the next day. Knowing that I have removed that challenge helps me to relax and not feel as anxious.

Upcoming Events

June 19--Deadline to consign calves to the July VQA Sale.

July 15--VQA Sale, Tri State Livestock Market.

July 17--Deadline to Consign Calves to the August VQA Sale.

July 20--VQA Steer Take-Up, Tri State Livestock Market, 6:30 a.m. to noon.

July 22--VQA Heifer Take Up, Tri State Livestock Market, 6:30 a.m. to noon.

July 25-Aug 1--Rich Valley Fair.

*4-H Camp has been cancelled for 2020.

Sept. 29 - Oct. 1--National Ag Agents Meeting, Virginia Beach.

Sept. 28 – Oct. 3--State Fair of Virginia.

Sept. 29 – Oct. 1--National Ag Agents Meeting, VA Beach.

Oct. 14--Smyth County 4th Grade Ag Field Day.

Oct. 16--Deadline to Consign Calves to the Nov. 11 VQA Sale.

Oct. 20-22--Sunbelt Ag Expo.

Oct. 30--Deadline to Consign Calves to the Dec. 2 VQA Sale.

Nov. 11--VQA Calf Sale, Tri State Livestock Market, 7 p.m.

Nov. 16--VQA Steer Take Up.

Nov. 16--Private Pesticide Recertification Course, 6 p.m.

Nov. 18--VQA Heifer Take Up.

Nov. 19--Private Pesticide Recertification Course, 8:30 a.m.

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Dr. Andy Overbay is Smyth County’s agriculture and natural resources extension agent.

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