Sleep, Rest and Relaxation and Health

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Sleep, rest and relaxation are a very important part of your daily ritual. I know that in the past I have gotten reved up with many projects and before long something has to be let go and it is usually the sleep that I need for a while.

Don’t do it!

As your sleep and rest start dropping you lose focus and can be lured into bad habits, sugar, coffee, and bad food.

The worst thing about a lack of rest is that your body will not have a chance to heal from your earlier workouts, this can be very bad as you not only will feel sore longer but it will also suck your optimism for your new lifestyle.

How Much Sleep to Get

How much rest is enough? You probably already know this. I myself do not wake up with an alarm clock or clock radio anymore. I am fortunate to have a flexible start time and know that I will not sleep in past 8:00 in the morning.

Effects_of_sleep_deprivation

Try going to be earlier in the evening for a few nights and see when you wake up. In the fall and winter I always tape the TV shows that I watch so that I can get a chance to watch them when it is convenient to me not when it is convenient for the TV networks.

Another thing that pro bodybuilders do is have a nap in the afternoon, a nap can be great in cleansing your mind and letting you learn to relax better but you will probably find as I do that it is almost impossible to do except maybe on the weekends.

You can probably see from the tone of this information that I am delivering here that you must stop treating sleep and rest as something that takes away from something. Instead learn to treat it as your own personal time, something a little more sacred than just something unavoidable that has to be done.

The Effects of Sleep

According to leading sleep researchers, there are techniques to combat common sleep problems:

  • Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule
  • Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize daytime use
  • Don’t smoke, especially near bedtime or if you awake in the night
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep
  • Get regular exercise
  • Minimize noise, light and excessive hot and cold temperatures where you sleep
  • Develop a regular bed time and go to bed at the same time each night
  • Try and wake up without an alarm clock
  • Attempt to go to bed earlier every night for certain period; this will ensure that you’re getting enough sleep

According to sleep researchers, a night’s sleep is divided into five continually shifting stages, defined by types of brain waves that reflect either lighter or deeper sleep. Toward morning, there is an increase in rapid eye movement, or REM sleep, when the muscles are relaxed and dreaming occurs, and recent memories may be consolidated in the brain.

No Hitting the Snooze Button

The experts say that hitting a snooze alarm over and over again to wake up is not the best way to feel rested. ‘The restorative value of rest is diminished, especially when the increments are short,’ said psychologist Edward Stepanski, PhD who has studied sleep fragmentation at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

This on and off again effect of dozing and waking causes shifts in the brain-wave patterns. Sleep-deprived snooze-button addicts are likely to shorten their quota of REM sleep, impairing their mental functioning during the day. (New York Times, October 12, 2004)

Certain therapies, like cognitive behavioral therapy teach people how to recognize and change patterns of thought and behavior to solve their problems. Recently this type of therapy has been shown to be very effective in getting people to fall asleep and conquer insomnia.

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