New Year Health Challenge Week 2: Get Your ZZZs

Welcome to Week 2 of the ten-week New Year Health Challenge, courtesy of Christine Kling of Body Basics LLC in Boise ID. 

Let’s face it, everyone loves a good night’s sleep!  But most of us have so many demands on our time—jobs, family, errands—not to mention finding time to relax. To fit everything in, we often sacrifice sleep. But sleep affects your mental, emotional and physical health and is vital to your well-being.

Adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, on average.

Well-rested people operate at a different level than people trying to get by on even 1 or 2 hours less nightly sleep. A good night’s sleep consists of 4 to 5 sleep cycles. Each cycle includes periods of deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep when we dream.

But why?

Your body uses most of the night to heal damage done to your cells and tissues by releasing hormones which, if interrupted, can negatively impact the following:

  • Body weight
  • Brain function
  • Immune system
  • Risk of accidents
  • Sex drive
  • Appetite
  • Breathing
  • Blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular health

Some research shows that poor sleep, depression, anxiety, and chronic skin problems all go together.  Constantly missing on sleep can lead to all sorts of disease and health issues.

Sleep affects your workouts

Lack of sleep slows your metabolism and is also linked to muscle atrophy.  Basically, if you don’t sleep, you don’t burn as many calories and you can’t build muscle.If you want to feel better, live better, be better and have fewer signs of aging, you need more sleep.                                                                        

Ways to sleep easy suggests the following for sleeping more soundly.

Avoid watching TV or using your computer in the evening,at least an hour or so before going to bed. These devices emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Normally, your brain starts secreting melatonin between 9 pm and 10 pm, and these devices emit light that may stifle that process.

Make sure you get BRIGHT sun exposure regularly. Your pineal gland produces melatonin roughly in approximation to the contrast of bright sun exposure in the day and complete darkness at night. If you are in darkness all day long, it can’t appreciate the difference and will not optimize your melatonin production.

Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. The slightest bit of light in your bedroom can disrupt your body’s clock and your pineal gland’s melatonin production. Move all electrical devices at least three feet away from your bed.

Install a low-wattage yellow, orange, or red light bulb if you need a source of light for navigation at night. Light in these bandwidths does not shut down melatonin production.

Avoid using loud alarm clocks. Being jolted awake each morning can be very stressful. If you are regularly getting enough sleep, you might not even need an alarm.

Get some sun in the morning, if possible. Your circadian system needs bright light to reset itself. Ten to 15 minutes of morning sunlight will send a strong message to your internal clock that day has arrived, making it less likely to be confused by weaker light signals during the night.

Maintain a regular sleep schedule.You should go to bed and wake up at the same times each day, even on the weekends. This will help your body to get into a sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning.

Establish a bedtime routine.  This could include meditation, deep breathing, using aromatherapy or essential oils, or indulging in a massage from your partner.

If you can’t sleep, don’t stay in bed. Lying in bed trying to sleep is frustrating and can create anxiety. If you can’t fall asleep, leave your bed and listen to some soft music or read a book until you feel sleepy, then go back to bed and try again.

Avoid alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine late in the day.

Challenge Guidelines:

If you continue to drink the recommended amount of water from week one, you get one point each day. If you sleep 7 – 8 hours, you get 1 sleep point for the subsequent day.  Your goal is to get 14 points at the end of the week.

About Christine:

Christine Kling is co-owner of Body Basics and privileged to share the business with her husband, James. Her passion for health and fitness began as a teen playing sports (basketball and tennis) and dancing, which led her to become a personal trainer and group exercise instructor at the age of 17. Struggling with a thyroid disorder and adrenal fatigue from Hashimoto’s auto-immune disorder also increased her love for helping people in the area of nutrition. She has experienced first-hand how diet and exercise can beat the odds! Youth Fitness, Pre-natal/Post-natal Fitness, Senior Fitness, Mat Sciences, and Indoor Cycling have been her areas of continued study and experience. A favorite quote of hers is “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!”

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