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Late Nights

INSHAPE NEWS OPINION

Ali Cavill – Fitness Fashionista

Late nights can have a variety of affects on the body and leave the body ill-equipped to fight disease and the importance of maintaining adequate and regular ‘sleep and awake’ patterns is often underestimated or misunderstood. Sleep is not just a biological need, but also a physiological one that is necessary for both physical and physiological health with a recommendation of more than six-hours of sleep a night.

A body requires a certain amount of rest and relaxation in order to refuel its mental and physical stores and rejuvenate the emotional capacity of a person. When this is compromised through a variety of reasons, such as late-night shift work, staying up late to study, partying or poor sleep habits, as well as insomnia, noise or new babies. As a result,  stress and tension levels will heighten, having an impact on one’s health, professional and personal life, learning capacity and moods. For example, in a busy home with children, if one parent is perceived as not pulling their weight as they are ‘trying to catch up on their sleep’ during the day, then the other parent may perceive this as not helping with the kids and friction can result, leaving all parties involved feeling irritable. Plus, emotional eaters may respond to not getting enough sleep, by over- eating, indulging in poor food choices and joining the growing number of people on a yoyo diet cycle.

It is common that people will abandon their exercise regime when they are feeling the effects of a late night. Reducing or eliminating your exercise program can have not only health and physical effects but will also affect your mental health through creating body image issues, feelings of guilt and inhibiting the release of ‘feel good’ endorphins associated with exercise.

Many studies suggest links between amounts of sleep, increased accident risk, and injuries and physical complaints. Lack of sleep increases the risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, stroke and many other physical and physiological conditions.

Other effects associated with late nights include:
Effects on growth – People with sleep deprivation have a lower level of cortisol secretion the night after they failed to get enough sleep, having negative effects on growth hormones.

Children’s Behaviour: Children suffering from sleep deprivation are at an increased risk of daytime behavioural problems. Lack of sleep with adolescents can also leave them with less concentration and cognitive ability resulting in decreased learning capacity and academic achievement.

Mood: People suffering from poor sleep may experience decreased feeling of happiness, and increased feelings related with depression.

Sleep is a very important activity. Quality sleep includes phases spanning over approximately six hours that have a direct effect on the cerebral changes responsible for learning and memory functioning. In addition, sleeping allows our body to refill our metabolic and psychological reserves, process memories, heal injuries, and reorganize many metabolic processes, thus contributing to mental and physical health for the entire body.

A successful personal trainer and owner of Fit Fantastic, Ali is also a popular group fitness instructor and an accomplished consultant, writer and speaker on fitness and health topics within the community. As Rockwear Ambassador and ‘superstar’ for the Australian Institute of Fitness, Ali is spreading her energy across the country by mentoring upcoming fitness professionals and making appearances at schools, charity and community events. In her spare time, Ali acts. She has appeared in the Australian Institute of Fitness National ad campaign as well as Home & Away, Biggest Loser, The Circle, Great Gatsby and other productions. Ali is also tertiary trained as an HR Manager, having held such positions within NSW Government.

 

Simone Samuels – Australian Holistic Health Coach

It happens to the best of us, we get caught up in the craziness of life, and end up spending too many late nights burning the candle. I have been there — getting up, going to work all day before heading to the gym, which is followed up by going out and having some drinks with friends (often skipping dinner), and then finally arriving home after midnight to crash for a few hours sleep before doing it all again. Sound familiar? Whilst getting into this self-destructive behaviour might start to become routine and to feel normal, it is actually doing damage to your body, mind and soul.

The fact is, we need sleep. It isn’t known as beauty sleep for no reason. When we sleep, it gives our body time to recharge, for your body to heal and repair, for your brain to rest and work through what has happened in the day and to re-set. Sleep is when your body works on your immune system to keep you strong and healthy, and is when your growth hormones go into overdrive. It is when your skin repairs and nails and hair grow healthy and strong. It also helps with our memory and to balance our hormones, which, in turn, control our emotions. You need to sleep to rejuvenate and revive. Think about how crappy you feel when you don’t get enough sleep. Think about how difficult it is to focus at work when you haven’t rested your brain. This is because your brain has become fatigued from the sleep deprivation and it can affect the way you perform even the easiest tasks.

The long-term damage of lack of sleep from too many late nights is not yet fully understood by scientists, but the effects you feel when you do push yourself too much are a pretty clear indication of what you are doing to yourself short-term. The constant state of tiredness, the inability to think clearly, the mood swings and uncontrollable emotions along with the pent-up stress.

While it might be fun to work hard and party harder, it is important to also recognise that you are not being the best version of yourself — both in terms of your mood and capacity to work, as well as in terms of your appearance and overall health. Designate one late-party night per week, preferably on the weekend, and give yourself the time your body needs for all-important beauty sleep.

Simone Samuels is an Australian holistic health coach who also comes under the guide of yogini, scuba-diver, photographer, fitness lover, writer, educator, world traveler, raw food chef, and life adventurer. She believes that being happy and well is a state that everyone deserves to feel, every day. Simone runs the practice Integrated Wellness so she can help busy women get their health on-track. Simone received her training as a Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s cutting-edge Health Coach Training Program. During her training, she studied over 100 dietary theories, practical lifestyle management techniques, and innovative coaching methods with some of the world’s top health and wellness experts. She also holds a Master of  Education, and worked as a teacher, trainer and tutor for over a decade before transferring her skills to the role as health coach.

Lee Sutherland – Creator of ‘Fitness in the City’

Is your weight creeping up as your sleep levels are creeping down? Instead of adding another hour to your workout, do yourself a favour and switch off Mad Men a little earlier tonight and get an extra hour of sleep instead.

You may be surprised to learn that one of the first questions I ask my clients is how many hours of sleep are they are getting each night. Not how many pizza’s you ate last week, or not how many times a week can you commit to training.

No, we talk about sleep. That’s the really good quality shut-eye time that is so elusive today that it’s almost an urban myth.

Why you may ask is Zzzzzz time so important?

Simply put, you can’t run on empty. Just as food fuels you for energy, sleep fuels you for recovery and regeneration, and if you are not getting good quality, uninterrupted sleep – this just isn’t happening!

Let’s have a quick look at how a lack of sleep effects your body mentally — and has you reaching for a strong latte — and also physically.

When you’re sleep deprived, you’re more likely to overeat and reach for a second, and perhaps third, donut. Why? Lack of sleep can activate the hormone Ghrelin which stimulates hunger and makes you want food. It also overrides the hormone Leptin which tells you to stop eating.

Scientists have uncovered an inverse relationship between the hours of sleep and blood plasma concentrations of ghrelin; as the hours of sleep increase, ghrelin concentrations were considerably lower, thereby potentially reducing appetite and avoiding potential obesity.

Sleepiness can also damage your judgment, work performance, mood, and safety. We all know how ‘slow’ we feel when we get limited sleep, but did you know that this also affects your memory? Yep, our memories are strengthened during sleep.

Moral of the story, make sure you are getting around seven-to-eight hours of beauty sleep every night to keep the hunger at bay and so your memories are here to stay.

You can put in the hard yards training and eating right, but if you are not putting in the necessary recovery time, which occurs while you are asleep, then ALL your hard work will be for nothing. Sleep isn’t a luxury but a necessity.

Lee Sutherland is the creator of Fitness In The City – a personal training blog on all things health, nutrition and fitness. She is also a Master Personal Trainer who trains clients outdoors as well as working at Sydney’s exclusive gym Holistic Fitness.

Sputnik Fitness – Futuristic Fitness Swashbuckler

When you’re 18, late nights are little more than a minor bump in the road. Something you speed over with reckless abandon. If anything, you take delight in become airborne, temporarily experiencing the wonder of flight and making an emergency, but mostly safe landing some time the next afternoon in time to do it all again the next night. And all is well in the world.

But as the years pass, the landings get bumpier. Inevitably, a crash is looming. You’re less flying kangaroo and more grounded tiger. And no, that’s not a new yoga pose. Although for some it may well be.

For most of us mere mortals, we find ourselves taking longer and longer to recover from a night of excess. And even without excess of any particular kind, the lack of sleep begins to take its toll. Before you know it you not only lose your ability to go sleepless in Seattle, or anywhere else for that matter, on consecutive days, but it now takes days, weeks and even months before you’re ready for another late night.

Okay, so it’s not really all doom and gloom. Properly motivated and fuelled, you can power through just about anything, including the dreaded five o’clock fades. Indeed, many of us wear our ability to push boundaries as a badge of honour. So there’s no question some of us not only live through our late night exploits, but brag about them as a sign of our not-so-secret superhuman powers. And possibly prowess.

However, none of this changes the fact that we’re not really designed to do such things. Energy drinks don’t really give us wings. And even the Energiser Bunny runs out eventually. If, when we were feeling flat, someone could jam a few coppertops where the sun don’t shine and have us instantly ready to bang the drum again, life would be grand indeed. So at the risk of sounding like your nagging nana, the undeniable reality is, our recharge comes in the form of decent nutrition and yes, a good night’s sleep. Or at the very least, a cup of decaffeinated tea and a lay down.

That’s not to say that you can’t function without one or all of these things. You can. However, it’s a matter of degrees. If you want to do your best, go your hardest, hit new heights and of course look eye-bag-free and fabulous while you’re doing it, you’re going to need a good night’s sleep.

Sure, sometimes you’re going to feel like an eight-year-old going to bed at 8:30 p.m. while your friends are out living the so-called life. But there’s no denying there’s a perverse sense of satisfaction in seeing them looking and feeling a bit green around the gills and rough around the edges while you burst into your day like a cool-aid fuelled, couch-jumping, unstoppable maniac.

Feeling good, as it turns out, feels quite good. Certainly way better than feeling sleep deprived. Or hung-over. And whadda ya know? It also turns out you can still live life at a 100-miles an hour and write a truck-load of awesome stories along the way, even without being out all night. What’s more, do it on a good night’s sleep and you may even remember them. And be happy too!

Don’t get me wrong, late nights definitely have their place. I’ve climbed volcanoes through the night to experience a glorious sunrise. I’ve run well into the wee hours of the morning to cross the finish line of a 100 kilometre trail race and receive a finisher’s medal. Both of which, definitely added amazing experiences to my life, that I will no doubt cherish until the days when my idea of a late night is staying up long enough to watch 60 Minutes before nodding off in a pool of my own drool on my recliner in front of the radiator.

Until then, I’ll be making it my mission to squeeze in a seemingly impossible amount of awesomeness into every day. At times, yes, that’ll mean sacrificing some sleep. But I’ll make sure it’s worth it. And when I have an awesome experience planned, whether it be physical or mental, there’s no question I’ll be going to bed at about the same time Fat Cat used to pull stumps. I won’t even argue with mum or dad about it.

Since taking up running in 2010, Sputnik has completed numerous road marathons including the New York Marathon as well as a number of ultra trail runs including the Tarawera 100km ultra in Rotorua, NZ and the brutal North Face 100 – a 100km trail race through the Blue Mountains in NSW. His practical, useful and usually at least vaguely entertaining advice and ability to make stupid, difficult and stupidly difficult acts of exercise look a tiny bit enjoyable and possibly even fun has already helped numerous people get off their arses. His mission is to do that a bit more. As testament to his Swashbuckling spirit he has eaten fried tarantulas in Cambodia, climbed active volcanos in Indonesia and been married. Sputnik is currently training for a 250km mountain trail race through Nepal where he hopes to ‘Redfine Crazy’. Sputnik says “Ordinary is the enemy and must be avoided at all costs”.

Sigrid de Castella – ‘Half the Woman I Was’ Creator

Sleeping beauty ain’t a late night kind of gal. And here’s why: Staying up late has some dangerous effects on the body. In fact, it’s much more serious than just feeling a little tired or groggy in the morning.

Let me explain.

It’s Not Natural

For 500,000 years man, and woman for that matter, has lived a diurnal existence – waking with the sun and sleeping when it’s dark. This is our design by simple evolution. However with technological advancement we now have the option to change our life-style and choose instead to be nocturnal. But forcing the body to go against its natural design, places it under extreme stress and causes mental and physical changes in our body.

The Brain Drain

Most of us are aware that late nights can lead to sleep deprivation. Just ask a night shift worker or someone that suffers from a sleeping disorder. Not getting the necessary 8-hours of quality sleep that the body requires, to regenerate and recharge itself each night, leads to a reduction in brain and cognitive function. Dozens of studies have proven that there is a clear connection between a lack of sleep and reduced mental stability. When this happens, we experience reduced alertness, co-ordination, concentration, memory, and motivation.

Emotionally Charged

A 2007 joint study between Harvard Medical School and the University of California revealed that sleep deprivation causes a change in the brain where we are simply unable to put things into the proper perspective. As a result, we become more emotional and tend to over react to simple events, often blowing things out of proportion.

The Long Haul

Insufficient or irregular sleeping patterns also have far reaching effects on the body’s long-term equilibrium, this then produces stress and creates hormonal changes. This causes a cascading range of physical effects in the body that often leads to changes in body weight, a weakened immune system and high blood pressure, as well as premature aging and even sleep paralysis. Sleep deprivation can also lead to other illnesses. For example, a study conducted in 2001 by Chicago Medical Institute proposed that a continued lack of quality sleep could also be linked to diseases including stroke, heart disease, breast and prostate cancer, and mental illness including psychosis and bipolar disorder.

Bottom Line:

Sure, having the occasional late night every now and again won’t cause irreversible damage. But getting enough restful sleep each night is critical to maximising your health and vitality. And if you want to stay as youthful and beautiful as Sleeping Beauty then you need to stick to a regular sleep schedule and see your doctor if you’re having trouble sleeping.

Sigrid de Castella is an internationally published author, speaker, and coach in the fields of health and business. Her book “Half The Woman I Was – How I lost 70kg naturally, reclaimed my life … and how you can too!” has received international acclaim and has been hailed as the most comprehensive weight loss book on the market. Sigrid has also studied Personal Training with the Fitness Institute Australia and has a keen interest in whole food nutrition, natural therapies and all aspects of physical and mental health. Sigrid and holds a BBA from RMIT University and is a member of both the Australian Institute of Managers and the Australian Society of Authors.

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6 thoughts on “Late Nights”

  1. I am so guilty of late nights, but didn’t know that it could be harming my body in more ways than one. Cheerz InShape News, this helps me a bunch.

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