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Sleep Sleep Glorious Sleep

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As some of you may have heard by now (several times) I am loving my fitbit.  Not just because it has upped my walking steps or got me into a little bit of friendly competition, but because I am focusing on an area we regularly ignore - sleep.  Did you know that getting more than 7 hours sleep a night can increase your exercise discomfort, reaction time and speed?  It also makes you slimmer than your fellow counterparts who are getting less than 6 hours sleep regularly.  I am the first to admit that I ram too much into a day, rush around like a headless chicken, and don't relax enough.  Are you the same?

So how can you make sure you are getting enough sleep?

Rule #1 - 7 day week schedule
We only have one biological clock, not one for week days and one for weekends.  Pick a time that works for you, but try and go to bed around the same time and wake up around the same time as the body loves routine, will be able to nod off quicker and get into REM (deep sleep) quicker.

Rule #2 Avoid Blue Light
Hopefully most of you will have heard this by now, but if not, electronic devices emit blue light which is like sunlight to the brain, block melatonin which is the hormone that helps relax, unwind and nod off.  If you have to use your electronic device within an hour of going to bed, dim the backlight as much as possible

Rule #3 Get up & get moving
When you wake in a morning, try and get up within the first 5 min and get some sunlight, so open the curtains and get by a window.  This helps tell your brain that it is morning.  See if you can also get a window spot at work and get outside at lunchtime, as those that get sunlight during the day get 46min more sleep at night than those that don't.

Rule #4 Switch your exercise routine 
If you are an exercise fan, try switching to a morning workout as those who manage to sneak in 30min moderate cardio work in the morning doze off quicker, sleep for longer and what is more they spend 75% more time in deep sleep than those who work out later in the day.

Rule #5 For those who struggle to sleep
If you toss and turn and can't nod off, get up after 20 minutes and go somewhere quiet and either listen to some music or do some quiet reading.  Lying in bed will only get you frustrated, raising your cortisol levels and making it harder to nod off.  Switching to a night time bath rather than a morning shower (or both)  can also prepare the body for sleep, as can listening to relaxing music that has a continuous beat of 60 beats per minute and including 15-20g of good quality carbohydrates in your evening meal, such as brown rice or sweet potato

The key element to remember is that our brains are not wired to go from 100 to zero without preparation, so work out what routine works for you and stick to it, helping you to relax, unwind and get your body ready for bed. 

NO MATTER HOW GOOD YOUR NUTRITION IS, NO MATTER HOW GOOD YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE IS, IF YOUR SLEEP ISN'T ANY GOOD, THE OTHER TWO DON'T MATTER."
– JAMES MAAS, PH.D