A week back we posted a test on The Quad’s Facebook page that urged folks to to calculate their health score. The test was pretty simple. Health being a result of more than just dieting or exercising, the following equation was taken into consideration.
Health = Activity + Nutrition + Sleep + Stress
Folks were asked to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 5 on each aspect of health. 5 stood for awesome and 1 stood for awful. Here is the original post.
A bunch of folks took the test and the results were revealing, to put it mildly. It was obvious that folks who focus on nutrition and training suffer from sleep issues. For some of us it is the lack of sufficient sleep while for some others it is disturbed sleep or feeling fatigued even after a supposedly good night’s sleep. What you need to realize is that sleep is a big big part of health and fat loss. To put it simply, if you’re sleep deprived you can be sure that your fat loss efforts won’t go too far and your health isn’t going to get any better, irrespective of how well you eat or how much you exercise.
To elaborate, during all our waking hours we place our bodies under stress (work, traffic, shallow breathing, deadlines, domestic quarrels etc) or we give it work (digestion, blood pressure variability control, excessive mental stimulus etc). It is when we sleep that all repair and replenishment occur in the body. It is the time for recovery. It is the time when all our efforts towards health come together. Click here for an amazing pictorial representation of why sleep is incredibly important to health and the effects of sleep deprivation.
Sleep being such a critical part of health, shouldn’t fixing sleep issues be a priority? Here are 5 incredibly simple ways to do exactly that.
Calvin doing what he does best
Dark is awesome
Turn off all lights (including night lamps), cover the LED display from your AC or alarm clock and use blackout curtains to block all night. The “glow” from electronics is the issue here. The small amounts of light from these devices pass through the retina into a part of the hypothalamus and delay the release of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. This is by far your best bet when it comes to sleep quality. The fix is simple – keep your electronics our of the bedroom. Yes, we know about your phone being your alarm. BS. Get a simple alarm clock.
Less is more
Sleep less but plan on it. Like in most things, sleep quality is much more important than sleep quantity. Look into your day and carve out the perfect time to sleep based on your lifestyle. For some, early to bed and early to rise works wonders as that is their undisturbed time while for some others, sleeping late and waking up late works better. When sleep deprivation is an issue, one is not better than the other. Find what works for you and work towards hitting the bed during that golden window.
Stress is directly related to sleep issues and vice versa. Sleep deprivation causes stress which piles up with other work and domestic stressors to result in more disturbed sleep and hence sleep deprivation. If you find yourself stressed out at various points of the day (angry, emotional, irritated, hungry, jealous), then it’s fair to assume that your sleep issues are a result of stress. Stay calm and sleep more.
Let’s face it. Some of us don’t do shit all day long. Even though we are mentally exhausted, physically we don’t do anything that deserves high quality rest. Your body needs to work as much as it needs to rest. So do the needful – exercise regularly and stay active everyday by doing more activities of daily life. No. Lounging, sitting at a desk, driving or going for a short work don’t count. You need to breathe hard, sweat and tire yourself out optimally.
Once you have tried all the above ideas and if none of them fix your issues completely, supplementation is an option. Magnesium is a wonder supplement that almost all of us lack in your diets today and is something that calms you down and regulates sleep quality. Look for magnesium oxide or citrate or any other ‘ide’ or ‘ate’ and supplement per RDA. For those who train hard, ZMA (Zinc and Magnesium) is a good option, as it helps with recovery too. Stay away from melatonin and other sleep inducing hormones ‘cos, well, they’re hormones and like all other supplemental hormones, will cause major issues in the long run.
Trust me. Put work away and hit that snooze button. The world will still be crazy and messed up when you wake up.