Part Five Of The New Nutrition Series
What I’m a about to say may come as a newsflash for some. But it’s something that holistic (and even some conventional!) health practitioners have known for years. And that is this:
A lack of sleep or adequate rest can – despite a healthy diet and regular exercise – cause your body to become unwell and flabby.
And you thought you were doing a good thing by getting up at 5.30am every day to sneak in that extra half hour of cardio! The truth is that every time you don’t get a full night’s sleep, you accrue a debt. Sure, it may only be half an hour here, an hour there, the occasional night when five hours will just have to do, but even half an hour of missing rest every night adds up to an impressive 182.5 hours of sleep debt each year. Don’t even get me started on those of you out there who ‘pride yourselves’ on functioning with just 5 or 6 hours. Believe me, you WILL be paying some hefty interest on that debt. In fact, you already are, you probably just don’t realize it.
Ever experienced any of the following?
And those are just the direct physical reactions to a lack of sleep! What about the compensation patterns? The morning treats to get you through? The V’s or Red Bull’s or coffees, or even the regular Shiatsu massage? Good or bad, it won’t help. Quick tip: sleep will.
Whenever you miss even an hour or two of sleep, your body sends a signal to your hormonal system to make urgent adjustments. If you regularly miss sleep, these seemingly small adjustments become patterns of imbalance – patterns geared toward enabling your body to handle the ongoing stress that a continued lack of sleep will surely bring about.
A Closer Look At The Effects Of Your Sleep Debt
How To Pay Off Your Sleep Debt
Speaking from personal experience, it does take a little planning and effort to get out of a poor-sleep routine. A big part of that is simply convincing yourself that the benefits of 7-8 hours sleep each night will outweigh ‘losing’ the extra hours of potential productivity. But just how productive are you in that extra two or three or four hours that you don’t sleep? In my experience, even those who manage to go flat out for weeks or months or years on just a few hours sleep always find it catches up with them somehow. Whether it’s extra time and money spent on treatments to help you get by, or whether it’s a full breakdown when your body finally decides enough is enough.
Five Steps To Quality Sleep
Don’t feel as though you need to make all these changes at once. Whilst that might be ideal, it’s much more realistic to take small steps. After all, you wouldn’t try to pay off a massive credit card debt all at once, would you? Even though it might be nice, it’s just not possible for most of us. The best way to pay off your sleep debt for good is to acknowledge what needs to be done, and then set a weekly or daily goal to bring you closer to achieving the big goal. Why not choose one of the above points as your sleep goal for this week. Maybe you can work on consistent bedtimes for the next week or so, and then start to add in some of the other points.
And if you find yourself tempted by a trashy TV show, a big piece of chocolate cake, or the lure of surfing the net late at night, repeat after me:
‘Not getting enough sleep will destroy all the hard work I’ve put in at the gym. It will mean that my body stores fat more efficiently and that even if I eat ‘perfectly’ I will continue to gain weight. I deserve better than this! And I’m prepared to do what it takes to preserve my health, my sanity and my waistline’.
You do deserve it. Don’t you?
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