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Sleep and Its Importance

INSHAPE NEWS OPINION

Nick Jack – CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach and Personal Trainer

Our bodies are designed to follow the movement of the sun, moon and the earth. We really have no choice as to what time is the best to sleep as we are governed by Mother Nature. Much like nocturnal animals such as bats. However due to modern living with laptops, TV’s etc., our body cannot tell the difference between lights or daylight. So we completely disrupt our internal body clock.

When light stimulates our skin or eyes our hormonal system thinks it is daylight and releases a stress hormone called cortisol. This hormone is activated to prepare our body for movement, work and whatever we need to do in daily life. Basically cortisol is needed to wake you up. This hormone naturally decreases as the sun goes down so that your body can prepare for the activation of the growth hormone called melatonin. Melatonin is then released to allow the body to repair itself from the day’s activities. As we are governed by Mother Nature there is a specific time that this repair is done. The cycle for physical repair is between 10pm and 2am, psychological repair between 2am and 6am. Therefore, if you go to bed at midnight you have now cut into 2 hours of your physical repair time.

Your body will suffer from many consequences as a result of lack of sleep in the short and long-term.

Some short term symptoms are as follows:

  • Accumulation of fat around the belly.
  • Low energy and lack of concentration.
  • Moodiness, easily upset or to anger.
  • Pains in neck, shoulders and back.
  • Weakened immune system.

The long term effects are more severe and can become debilitating. Excessive production of the stress hormone cortisol leads to adrenal fatigue as the adrenal glands produce cortisol. I have consulted with several clients with adrenal fatigue and their injury and illnesses were significant and numerous. These clients suffered from anything like chronic fatigue to chronic colds, infections, and even disease. In a nutshell these clients had no repair time for their body to combat the destruction happening inside them. They were literally being eaten alive by their high levels of cortisol. And on top of all that, to cope with all of the cortisol the body began producing more fat as a way of coping with the added stress. So now in addition to pain, being tired all the time, cranky etc., you now can gain a bigger gut too.

Strategies I use to ensure good sleep are to:

1. Be in bed by 10pm.

2. Minimize exposure to bright lights.

3. No stimulants such as coffee, sugar and alcohol after 2pm.

4. Keep your bedroom dark with no TV in the room.

5. Eat fresh foods only, beware of refined carbohydrates.

6. Regular exercise – If I am struggling to sleep I do Tai Chi or some gentle stretching to help my body relax.

So, I hope I have been able to show you why it is important to get a good night sleep, and I have given you some easy tips on how to make changes if you are not getting enough.

Nick Jack is a qualified CHEK Exercise Coach, Level II Holistic Lifestyle Coach and personal trainer. He runs a personal training business called No Regrets Personal Training.

Nick likes to lift weights, cycle, run and triathlon. He has played almost every sport at one time in his life. Now, he enjoys spending time walking his dog and relaxing with his wife and friends.

Anthony “Chief” Ippindo – Director of Holistic Fitness Australia at Fox Studios

Sleep is a natural part of everybody’s life and something our bodies need to do. As we sleep our bodies major organs and regulatory systems continue to work actively. Parts of the brain also increase their activity dramatically to oversee a wide variety of biological maintenance tasks that keep you running in top condition.

In addition, our internal biological clock regulates the timing for sleep and regulates each person to feel sleepy at night time and to be active during the day. A recent survey found that more people are sleeping less than 6 hours a night, and difficulties in sleeping affect 75% of us a few nights a week. If this becomes an increased bout of insomnia, health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune systems power start to take effect.

Inadequate sleep can cause decreases in:

  • ”  Performance
  • ”  Concentration
  • ”  Reaction Times
  • ”  Metabolism
  • ”  Inadequate sleep can cause increases in:
  • ”  Memory lapses
  • ”  Accidents and injuries
  • ”  Behaviour problems
  • ”  Mood problems
  • ”  Symptoms where you may be sleep deprived are :
  • ”  Need a alarm clock in order to wake up on time
  • ”  Rely on a snooze button
  • ”  Have a hard time getting out of bed
  • ”  Feel sluggish in the afternoon
  • ”  Fall asleep while watching or relaxing in the evening.

In closing, everyone is different when it comes to how many hours sleep per night is required, but my general rule of thumb is in bed by 10 p.m. and I am up and ready to hit the day hard at 6 a.m. This gives me that perfect eight hours of sleep, so that I get the physical regeneration I need. This is where my cells are repairing themselves and mental and psychological regeneration occurs where I am able to process my thoughts and decisions during the day.

All the best in health.

Anthony “Chief” Ippindo is a dedicated fitness professional, who is an AFL football player and physical conditioning coach that has a career spanning over 10 years. Anthony has a Bachelors in Sports Science and is a qualified strength and conditioning coach, which has enabled him to work with elite athletes from AFL football, hockey and tennis to rowing and high performance diving at the South Australian Institute Of Sport. In addition, Anthony has also studied a holistic approach to exercise under Paul Chek to become a qualified exercise coach and a level II holistic lifestyle coach. This has enabled him to move forward from personal training to become a holistic lifestyle coach.

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