July 22, 2010

"You can sleep when you're dead."

I never could understand this saying but always have envied those who can operate on little sleep. I know a few people who can work till the wee hours of the morning without a problem. I still think this lifestyle habit will bight them in the butt one day...but I continue to wait to see this.

In fact, researchers do suggest that if you are not getting at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night, you are not getting enough. This is usually when the group I am speaking to starts to laugh. Most people struggle with getting even 7 hours so if you are doing this consistently, congratulations! Keep up the great work.

I am one of those unfortunates who, if they don't get at least 8-9 hours of quality sleep a night cannot function well. I won't even tell you what I do when I have a week of sleep deprivation...as I'm currently experiencing.  All hell breaks loose in my head and all those tiny little problems in life become very big life altering situations. Which, I can only assume, is quite irritating for those around me.

There are three very important lifestyle factors that can help you manage your stress, your eating habits, and your weight; healthy eating, daily physical activity, and sleep. Which one do you think is most important? That's right! Sleep is the most important factor to gain the benefits of the other two. If you aren't sleep well, you may not be positively influencing the others. A lack of sleep can promote "the munchies" the next day (and we're not talking carrots and celery sticks). Without deep sleep, your body cannot repair the tissue damage (microscopic tears in the muscle) that may occur during physical activity. So you see, without a good night's sleep the rest may be wasted effort.

If you are having trouble sleeping here are a few very basic things you may want to consider.

1. Turn off the TV at least 30 prior to bed AND get rid of the TV in the bedroom. The bedroom should be just for sleeping and ...well...you know.  Evidently, the brain remains active after you shut the TV off and may hinder your attempts at a good night's sleep. I know...some of the best TV happens after 10 but what would you rather - being up to date on the latest HBO show or seeing the world through rose coloured glasses making everyone else jealous because they chose Entourage instead? (although it is a fabulous show)

2. Invest in a GOOD mattress and pillow. I see so many people cheaping out on these things when it is probably one of the most important purchases for your health.

3. Keep your bedroom dark and cool.

4. Try eating a small carbohydrate snack before bedtime as this may help to induce those sleepy feelings. Don't worry about the myth that if you eat after 8pm you turn into a pudgy Gremlin...it's a myth.  Try a bit of cereal or half of a toasted bagel.

5. Practice shutting your brain off through meditation, yoga, or relaxation exercise. There are many people who just can't stop thinking....practice makes perfect. I, on the other hand, am falling asleep in Yoga so I got that going for me.

If the above tips don't work, I highly recommend a sleep clinic or sleep specialist to assist you with finding what works for you. Many people, for example, have sleep apnoea and don't even know it. So dedicate some time to researching what you can do to get a better night's sleep.

Meanwhile, I'm going to enjoy my day walking around like a zombie and crossing my fingers I have better luck tonite.

Sleep tight!

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