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Showing posts with label Rest and Sleep. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rest and Sleep. Show all posts

Isolated Muscle Twitching

Q

"Hey Charles!

I know you are knowledgeable about sports injuries so I thought I should ask you. I have been getting these weird muscle twitches lately in my left arm, just below the elbow on the upper part of my arm. It is only in the left arm which is part of the reason why I think it must be a sports injury. They last for several seconds and you can visibly see the muscles spasm. It is rather weird. I haven't been exercising much lately because it is winter and I am not sure what I could have done to give myself a sports injury, assuming that is what it is.

They started yesterday and now it is happening even more today. It is getting worse and I am starting to freak out a bit. Any ideas?

- Rodney B."

A

Hey Rodney, long time no see.

Okay, well you are in luck. I don't think it is a sports injury. I think you are having isolated muscle spasms because you probably haven't been sleeping much lately (I am guessing because of New Years etc, it messes up the sleep patterns for many people). I get them sometimes too, always when I have had a lack of sleep. One time I got the spasms in my left eyelid and it was really annoying.

I have found that if I simply take extra time to sleep, maybe even have naps when possible, the spasms go away and everything rights itself.

According to my research they can also be caused by high stress (which effects sleep patterns). So that can also be a factor.

If they don't go away after lots of sleep, then you should definitely consult a doctor.

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
CardioTrek.ca

Reply

"Oh damn. I think you are right. I have been staying up for the last two nights really late and playing Skyrim. Like staying up til 4 AM, that sort of thing. That game is really addictive. Okay, I just need to go to sleep sooner and stop playing Skyrim so late at night. It all makes sense now.

Thanks Charles! You're awesome!

- Rodney B."

Reply

Glad to hear my educated guess was accurate. I was wrong about the New Years Eve, but correct about the lack of sleep. Go sleep more!!!

 

More Than Medication: 5 Antidepressants Doctors Need to Prescribe

Guest Post by Dan Chabert

Depression is the most common mental illness in America, and while prescription medication is necessary for some individuals experiencing depression, there are natural ways to help ease these symptoms that should be included as part of a treatment plan.

We all know eating well, working out, and getting enough sleep are part of a healthy lifestyle, but these cornerstones of wellness have a direct effect not only on our appearance and how our bodies function; they greatly impact the brain and our mood.

Here are 5 natural antidepressants to try before turning to prescription medication, or to supplement alongside it:


Meditation/Mindfulness

Meditation is a simple concept on the surface; be still, focus on your breath, keep your brain and thoughts in the moment. But only recently has the practice been adopted into mainstream society, no longer seen as something exclusively for Buddhist monks. The health benefits range from lowered blood pressure and improved heart health to a boosted immune system. So why is this such a powerful antidepressant?

Meditation focuses on being mindful of your current thoughts and emotions. When the mind wanders - as it will - the purpose of meditation is to recognize the thought without judgement, and let it go. Because of this, people experiencing depression and anxiety can learn to stop the cycle of negative thoughts as opposed to letting them spiral.

As Stacy Lu explains in her cover story in American Psychological Association, “A review Madhav Goyal, MD wrote...looked at different types of mindfulness meditation among 47 studies, finding that it had the same moderate effect on treating depression as medication, and had moderate effects on anxiety and pain as well.”

While medication can have side effects, there are no negative side effects or harm in trying meditation alone or alongside other treatments. It takes practice, but now that it’s gaining popularity there are not only classes offered at yoga studios across the country, there are plenty of apps to get you started. Click here for a list of 2016’s best meditation apps.

Sleep

When we sleep, our bodies reset, and energy is restored. While one night of too little - or too much - sleep won’t throw you out of whack, chronic sleep deviations lead to fatigue and irritability, which directly affect your mood. Because of this, poor sleep can even lead to depression.

Sleep is a natural mood regulator, so getting your sleep patterns on track can improve symptoms of depression, and hopefully stave it off in the first place. Here are a few tips to getting better sleep:

  • Set a bedtime alarm for 8-9 hours before you need to get up.
  • Sleep with an eye mask or blackout blinds and ear plugs.
  • Avoid caffeine at least 6 hours before bed.
  • An hour before bed, allow yourself time to unwind and set the mood for bed; no email, brush your teeth, wash your face with warm water. Avoid rushing around.
  • Keep a consistent bedtime and wake up time.

Exercise

Regular exercise has been shown to provide mood enhancing qualities, and in one 1999 study, was shown to have similar effects as antidepressant medications.

“ About 60%–70% of the people in all three groups could no longer be classed as having major depression. In fact, group scores on two rating scales of depression were essentially the same. This suggests that for those who need or wish to avoid drugs, exercise might be an acceptable substitute for antidepressants.” - Harvard Health Publications

What’s more is a follow up study to this, showed the effects of exercise to last longer than those of the medications!

To reap the mental boost of exercise, you don’t need to sign up for a marathon or spend hours at the gym. Exercising at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes most days of the week will not only give you a host of benefits, from weight control and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, to increased strength of muscles and bones, it’s enough to boost your mood and mental health.

There’s no one way to exercise. Find something you enjoy - long walks outside, a zumba class at a local gym, and/or a body weight routine you can do at home - to ensure you’ll stick with it and look forward to the experience!

Having a Hobby

Creative flow - that state where you’re so absorbed in what you’re doing you lose track of time and other thoughts float away - has similar effects of meditation, which as we’ve seen can improve symptoms of depression.

When your mind and body are engaged in a leisurely and enjoyable activity, the brain releases dopamine, triggering the reward and pleasure center of the brain. Even 15 minutes can calm the mind and relax the body. Don’t have a hobby? Think of activities you enjoyed as a child and revisit them as an adult. Coloring, knitting, puzzles, or writing are all activities easily accessible
that do not require extensive training, if any at all.

Healthy Diet

Food can be either medicine or poison; it’s up to you. Our bodies react to what we fuel them with, and this has an affect on the brain and our mood. Pumping ourselves full of processed junk, caffeine, and alcohol won’t just give you a stomach ache, it will put your blood sugar out of balance and deplete your serotonin.

By getting the nutrients your body needs, you will keep your energy levels in a balanced normal range, and promote overall wellness, making activities like exercise and stressful situations easier to manage.

You don’t have to become a nutritionist to improve your eating habits. Focus on eating enough to fuel your day, but not so much you are stuffed. Make real food a priority, limiting junk and overly processed products. Whole grains, lean meat/protein, fresh vegetables and fruit along with healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocado, will give you energy and the vitamins and minerals you need to feel your best.

Writer’s Bio: Dan Chabert

Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultramarathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on runnerclick.com, monicashealthmag.com, edgehunting.com and nicershoes.com. He has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.

How to train yourself to Fall Asleep at Will

Once in a Blue Moon I sometimes like to talk about the importance of rest and sleep.

But what if you have difficulties falling asleep?

Like I sometimes do, although I find that usually only happens if I am either too excited or too stressed and my brain is working overtime. (I also find that such times is a great time to get out a notepad and work on poetry - like my 2015 book "Dreaming of Zen Archery", available on Kobo, Chapters and Indigo.)

Anywho, back to the matter of sleeping there is a breathing technique which can help you to fall asleep. Some people claim to have tried it and that it helped them to fall asleep in less than 60 seconds.

Side benefits of being able to sleep more often is that is slows down aging, improves your odds at weight loss, is positive for mental health, reduces health, improves cognitive reasoning and a slew of other benefits.

To test this theory I am going to have an afternoon nap and see if it works. Scroll below to see if it worked.

So what do you do?

Step #1 - Breathe in through your nose for four seconds.
Step #2 - Hold for seven seconds.
Step #3 - Breathe out slowly through your mouth for eight seconds.
Step #4 - Repeat steps 1 to 3 until you fall asleep.

This breathing method of falling asleep was pioneered by Harvard-educated Doctor Andrew Weil who studies meditation, breathing and relaxation exercises and it supposedly works because it lets oxygen better fill your lungs, calms your mind and relaxes muscles. The process releases certain hormonal chemicals that soothes your brain and induces sleep. When we are stressed our endocrine system releases adrenaline, which makes people feel excited and unable to sleep. The breathing technique supposedly counteracts the adrenaline and forces your heart rate to relax so you can sleep.

So does it work???

Well, I have a mixed review. I did fall asleep and have a nap (and was wise enough to set my alarm on my cellphone to wake my up at 3:30), however by the time I fell asleep I had given up doing the whole 4 seconds, 7 seconds, 8 seconds counting thing. The breathing / counting was too distracting in my opinion and I opted for breathe in - hold breath, and breathe out slowly. That did work for me even if the counting did not.

I was even having a nice little dream when I was rudely woken up by my cellphone's alarm.

So it does work, kind of. I may have to try it again in the future to see if the counting actually helps or if I am better off just working on the deep breath - hold - slowly release thing that I was eventually doing.

We can't all sleep like kittens and babies, but with practice maybe we can learn how to fall asleep using a deep breathing cycle.


5 Surefire Ways to Lose Weight

Various people are always having difficulty when it comes to losing weight - and keeping it off. Below it 5 surefire ways to shed the pounds, and pay close attention to #5 because it is the key to keeping it off.

#1. Do cardio exercises on a regular basis. Running, swimming, cycling. Even if you have mobility issues such as sore knees it is exceptionally important to at least walk on a regular basis - or in the case of injuries / chronic disability, swimming is very therapeutic.


#2. Track the calories you are eating and drinking, and reduce the total per day to 1400 to 1700 depending on your body size (1700 if you are tall, 1400 if you are petite). Every sip and every bite needs to be kept track of and limit yourself accordingly. Thus if you are of a medium height (5'8" tall for example) aim for 1600 calories per day.



#3. Make a habit of making sure you are getting enough sleep. People often overeat and don't exercise simply because they are exhausted. They use sugary and fatty foods to prop up their energy levels and unused energy ends up being stored as fat. Making sure you get a good night's sleep every night means you have more energy to exercise and you are less likely to overeat.

#4. Eat healthy - even when you don't want to - and aim to eat healthy foods you already love. Remember #2 above, to count calories, but also aim to make the foods you are eating as healthy as possible too. Your goal here is to make sure you are getting enough nutrients, minerals and protein to make your body a well oiled machine. Avoid anything you know is bad for you and aim for fruits and vegetables that you know you love.

#5. Repeat #1, #2, #3, #4 until they simply becomes a permanent lifestyle change. This is how you make permanent changes and keep off the weight. If you just go back to your old habits, the old weight will simply return - sometimes a lot faster than you expect. You might eventually stop doing #2 (counting calories), but exercising, sleeping well and eating healthy need to become permanent lifestyle changes.

Remember - It is okay to fall off the horse once in awhile. Just got right back on the horse and keep riding until you get to your destination. And once you get there, keep riding!

Causes and Cures for Chronic Back Pain

While many people experience back pain, chronic back pain is actually more like a sports injury like tennis elbow.

Why? Because often chronic back pain can be solved through proper form while lifting objects, more exercise, diet, sleeping positions and more.

Below is a list of causes for chronic back pain - and their solutions.

Years of poor posture

The Solution - Practice good posture when sitting, standing and even sleeping. For added benefits take up yoga to build stronger core muscles.

Improper lifting and carrying of heavy objects

The Solution - Practice proper form while lifting things (lift with your legs and your back straight), even when lifting small objects. When in doubt, let someone younger and fitter carry it for you. Wearing a back brace is also a smart idea to help prevent injury.

Even lifting small objects improperly can put a lot of strain on your back - unnecessary strain. So if you drop your toothbrush, bend over without thinking and pick it up improperly you can still hurt your back - not because of the weight of the toothbrush, but because of the weight of your upper body.

Being overweight, which puts excess strain on the back and knees

The Solution - Go for daily walks, cut back on the sweets, keep doing this until you attain your ideal weight. Also try swimming, cycling and other cardio exercises to help you lose weight.

Wearing high heels

The Solution - Stop wearing high heels. Wear flats with cushioning instead. Take up yoga to help correct muscle imbalances in your back.
Congenital condition such as curvature of the spine

The Solution - Seek medical treatment from a back / spinal specialist.

Traumatic injury (eg. car accident damaged your spine)

The Solution - Seek medical treatment from a back / spinal specialist.

Note: Sadly the above two can only be solved with the help of doctors and trained specialists.

Sleeping on a poor mattress

The Solution - Buy a better mattress that supports your back better. Research proper sleeping positions that won't damage your spine.


No obvious physical cause

The Solution - Experiment with different solutions above until you find something that works. I recommend starting with practicing good posture, taking up yoga and sleeping in better positions that are good for your back. Many people have poor posture / sleeping positions and don't realize it.

Ordinary aging of the spine (degenerative changes)

The Solution - Regular exercise and a healthy diet will keep you younger longer and give your spine more longevity. Walking, yoga, light weight lifting with proper form can all help you keep you feeling younger and build bone density.

A Good Night's Sleep

Everyone needs a good nap now and then.
Last night I slept really well.

And I know why. I set my alarm clock ahead an hour so it went off at 8 AM instead of my normal 7 AM.

That extra hour of sleep made a world of difference in my opinion.

Now I understand not everyone has the convenience of being able to sleep in an extra hour whenever they want to, being a personal trainer in Toronto most of my clients are not expecting me to meet them for a personal training session until 10 or 11 AM at the earliest. Very rarely do I take on a client who wants a 9 AM workout.

But if you do have the convenience of being able to sleep in an extra hour - and you are currently suffering problems sleeping, I strongly recommend getting that extra hour to see if you can reset your biological clock.

Technically I didn't even wake to the alarm. I got up at 7:40 feeling well rested (and needing to urinate) and then I showered and I am now feeling the best I have felt in a week at least.

I am also a big fan of taking naps / siestas when your schedule permits it. A short 30 to 45 minute nap shortly after lunch is great for boosting your energy levels.

Sleep, as scientists will tell you, is extremely important to your overall health. A good night's sleep keeps you from packing on the pounds (lack of sleep causes people to overeat, especially sugary things, in order to boost energy levels), builds extra muscle (you build / regenerate approx. 80% of your muscle tissue while sleeping), and quality sleep boosts various "happy" hormone levels, which act as painkillers, antidepressants, and increase your metabolism levels so you regenerate damaged tissue faster (eg. fights back against cancer, heals injuries). The boosted metabolism even fights back against aging.

Thus quality sleep makes you slimmer, stronger, happier, healthier and younger.

Good sleep, healthy food, lots of exercise
and you will live a long and healthy life.

What is worse is that fatigue causes your body to start producing hormones that blocks your blood from drawing upon fat reserves for energy. This means that when fatigued you can only get energy from food - which means that exercising while fatigued you are drawing upon only food energy and not stored fat energy. So if you want to be burning fat then you really need to be well-rested before you exercise.

So if you are falling asleep at your desk then clearly you are not getting enough sleep. And if you are trying to lose weight by exercising, then you won't be seeing much results because you will feel fatigued all the time, unenergetic, and exercising without any results.

Sleeping Positions and how they Effect your Health

A good night's sleep effects your health in many ways, and likewise different sleeping positions also effect your health - sometimes in adverse ways you didn't know about.

Below we will explore 9 sleeping positions and how they effect your health.

1. On Your Back, Arms at Sides

Good for the back and neck.
Back sleepers tend to snore more and sleep apnea is more common.

2. On Your Back, Arms Up (the Starfish Position)

Good for the back and neck.
Prevents facial wrinkles and skin breakouts.
May result in snoring and problems with acid reflux.
May put pressure on nerves in your shoulders, leading to pain.

3. Face Down

Good for digestion.
Difficulty breathing through your pillow.
May cause neck pain and back pain.

4. Fetal Position

May cause problems for your back and neck.
Restricts deep breathing in the chest.
Good position for problem snorers or pregnant women.

5. On Side, Arms at Sides

Okay for back and neck, also reduces sleep apnea.
May cause facial wrinkles and sagging breasts.

6. On Side, Arms Out

Okay for back and neck, also reduces sleep apnea.
Shoulder and arm pain due to restricted blood flow and pressure on the nerves.

7. On the Right Side

May cause heartburn while you are sleeping.
Better for pregnant women, improves circulation to the fetus.

8. On the Left Side

Puts more strain on your liver, lungs, and stomach (while minimizing acid reflux). This in turn will make you hungrier in the morning.

9. Pillow-Supplemented

Regardless of which sleeping position you prefer, you will get a better night’s rest with less pain in the morning by supplementing your body with a pillow.

Back sleepers can put a small pillow under the arch of their spine, side sleepers can place a pillow between their knees, and stomach sleepers can place a pillow under their hips to support the joints and allow for full, pain-free relaxation.

And remember to stretch every morning after sleeping! It will improve your flexibility after staying in the same position(s) all night.

How to Reduce Stress using Exercise, Diet and Sleep

Q.

"Hello!

I have a very busy schedule with work and it is extremely stressful. It isn't really a lot of hours, but its the stress and I am not sleeping properly either. I want to exercise more, and I do have time on the weekends, but I don't feel motivated because I am so exhausted and stressed out from work. HELP!

Seriously, any advice would be extremely helpful.

- Jonathan R."

Stop stressing out!
A.

Hey Jonathan!

I am sorry to hear work has got you down so much. But let me try to help you with some very sound advice (which I have separated into three sections below).

SECTION #1. DIET

I noticed you didn't mention your diet at all. What you are eating is often largely responsible for how you are feeling. From a nutritionist perspective diet plays a huge a role (about 80%) in everything we do. Sleep and exercise also plays a role, but the percentage of each is small in contrast.

When people are stressed out they tend to crave comfort food. Foods that are high in carbs, sugar, etc. Breads, pasta, ice cream, chocolate, and also salty junk food. The reason is because these foods cause a temporary boost in endorphin levels. They're like a drug and they are addictive. The extra carbs later makes you feel worse, bloated and depressed, so you go back for more just so you can get that temporary boost in endorphins. Its a horrible cycle and its only made worse if you are under a lot of stress.

So how do you fix this?

STEP ONE - Don't go grocery shopping when depressed. Go when you are in a positive mood and only buy things that are good for you. Whole wheat breads/pastas, get yogurt instead of ice cream, buy lots of veggies and fruits (LOTS!), skim milk instead of 2%.

STEP TWO - When hungry, snack on healthy things. Don't starve yourself until later. Eat now and eat healthy. Starving yourself is both unhealthy and adds more to your stress levels.

STEP THREE - Plan your meals ahead of time to make healthier meals. Doing so will help regulate your stress levels.

STEP FOUR - Don't get rid of carbs completely. You still need them. That is why whole wheat bread/pasta is good for you.

STEP FIVE - Avoid junk food, but don't be afraid to indulge during parties and special events. You are there to have fun and relax. Enjoy! Don't punish yourself either.


SECTION #2. EXERCISE

Many people who come home from work and are exhausted just want to chill in front of a TV and not doing anything active all evening. However exercising for 30 minutes to 60 minutes between 6 PM and 8 PM will also help you get a better night's sleep and will reduce your stress levels dramatically. I don't recommend exercising after 9 PM because then you can get insomnia from getting "too pumped up". Basically if the sun is still up, its a good time to exercise. Once the sun sets, its time to relax and get ready for bed.

Plus some exercises are really good at lowering stress levels. But what exercises can you do at home that help lower stress?

OPTION ONE - Boxing. I love boxing myself. It is very good for cardio. Just doing shadow boxing by yourself for 30 minutes every night will both provide exercise and reduce stress. Other forms of martial arts are also handy, but more difficult for beginners to learn and do at home.

OPTION TWO - Yoga. Yoga is great for developing your core muscles and also reducing stress.

OPTION THREE - Weightlifting. Try getting some dumbbells to start off and lifting weights while watching your favourite TV shows. During commercial breaks do jumping jacks and then go back to the dumbbells. If you progress further with this get a barbell and do deadlifts during the commercial breaks, but be sure to learn how to do a proper Olympic style deadlift so your form is correct and you don't hurt yourself. Start off with weights that are just heavy enough that doing 10 reps is a challenge. If you can only do 5 they are too heavy. If you can do 30 without feeling a challenge, they are too light.

OPTION FOUR - For the weekends look for exercises you can do that get you outside and are either "low stress exercises" like going for nature walks and similar "low cardio exercises", or alternatively try "stress release exercises" like archery, boxing, martial arts. Look for fun exercises that you can enjoy again and again every weekend.

You may be exhausted after work and on the weekends. But if you make a plan to do these things you will find the motivation because you've made it part of a schedule.


SECTION #3. SLEEP

Having a balanced diet and regular exercise will help you sleep better, but there are also other ways to improve your sleep patterns.

#1. Close the drapes / get thicker/blacker drapes so you can block out the light. This way you don't have the light bothering you while you are trying to sleep.

#2. Get more comfortable pillows.

#3. Clean your bedsheets and make your bed regularly. A smooth and comfortable (and clean) bed will help you sleep better because it will be more comfortable.

#4. Some people prefer to fall asleep to music. Get a stereo or program on your computer (or app on your smartphone) with a timer which will play music and then shut off automatically after 45 minutes or so.

#5. Seek psychiatric help. Some people have problems sleeping at night because of old guilt / unresolved feelings. Might even be giving them nightmares. Facing your demons, apologizing to past enemies, visiting the gravestones of your loved ones, etc can also help you to sleep better at night once you've figured out what is stressing you out.

#6. Sex. Ahem. Yes, that could certainly help you sleep too. Great for reducing stress too! And its exercise!


If it is really purely work that is stressing you out and you can afford to make a career change, you might also consider that as a possibility. It really depends on how much you love your job or whether you only do it because you are chasing the almighty dollar. That is for you to determine, not me. I will say however that money is not everything and learning to let go of our stress over money can also lead to a happier and healthier life.

A career change, taking a year off to travel and relax, taking a sabbatical - they are all options if you have the resources and/or will.


General Wellness - Mind, Body + Soul

If you exercise and eat well because of the health benefits (and longevity) its possible that you've also realized that health also includes mental health - and that mental health is often the most important thing you need to worry about.

Fitness is more than just sweating your buns off, pumping iron and trying to burn the most calories possible. You also need SLEEP and REST time to heal and build new muscle tissue.

Another thing you should do regularly is STRETCHES. There will be times when you are in so much pain for exercising that you won't even want to stretch, and you might be tempted to regularly skip stretching or exercise sessions because you are suffering from muscle pain/fatigue. That is normal. Its a sign that you've been pushing yourself too much.

When that happens it means you need to force yourself to do stretching or yoga instead of your regular exercises - and more importantly to rest and get plenty of sleep. You may even need to purchase muscle relaxers in the event that your muscle pain is so severe you are having difficulty sleeping.

Sore muscles become filled with lactic acid, the adrenal glands fatigue and the body produces more cortisol, a hormone that will store more fat, and make it harder to burn off. Too much intense exercising actually becomes quite counterproductive if you are overdoing it and making your muscles too sore. Over training can be a serious problem in exercise enthusiasts and can cause irritability, fatigue and the increased risk of injury. Take care of your body by introducing gentle exercise such as yoga, tai chi, Pilates or general stretching can help give your body a break and give it more time to build new muscle tissue.

Sports injuries are a sign that you are doing something wrong. When that happens it is important to make sure you are - not overdoing it, observing proper form on your exercises (sloppy form = more injuries), or trying to challenge yourself too much by doing things beyond your current talents.

It is true that "No Pain = No Gain" when it comes to weightlifting, but "Too Much Pain = You're Doing It Wrong" is also equally true.

Doing regular stretches and yoga, and basic exercises to build up your core strength, help to prevent sports injuries and should be a regular component in your fitness regimen.

Remember these three things!

MIND - Sleep, rest and meditation. Remember to take naps when you get the chance.


BODY - Stretching, yoga, low stress exercise days. eg. Going for a nature walk instead of weightlifing.

SOUL - Fun exercises / sports that give you peace of mind. eg. Archery, cycling, ice skating, swimming.


The simple act of walking or cycling on a nature trail is great exercise but also calming, refreshing and revitalizing - helping your mind and body on multiple levels. You have to think in terms of BALANCE so your body can maintain its equilibrium physically but mentally and emotionally too.

There is no point being buff on the outside if you are falling apart on the inside.

Get Better Sleep = Sleep Healthier

Want to live longer and have a happier more stress-free life?

Start by sleeping healthier.

If you are one of those problem sleepers who keeps tossing and turning like a tornado that just can't get comfortable and looking panicky at your clock every half hour, well then you are not alone. There are quite a few people out there who have unhealthy sleep patterns - and it messes with their health, their weight, their ability to focus/concentrate and a whole batch of other problems. Getting a proper night's sleep is crucial if you are trying to lose weight, gain muscle or accomplish a variety of fitness goals.

But instead of focusing on the ills, lets focus on the cure.

1. Don't exercise in the evening - Do stretches instead.

Exercising too much will rev you up and keep you awake! Keep your fitness regimen to the morning. It may mean waking up ultra early but once you develop the routine, you will fall asleep earlier at night.

If you want to do anything before bed the best alternative is to do stretching or light yoga for 5 minutes.

If you do exercise in the evening time it so it is 2 hours before sleeping so you don't get revved up too close to your bedtime. You need that cool down period before sleeping. This is why stretching is better because it won't rev your muscles / blood pressure up, and it will help you feel more relaxed.

2. Write a to-do list before bed.

If you are the type that cannot sleep because too much is on your mind, get it out in the form of a list. Then you know what has to be done, and you can worry about the details the next day.

3. Don't eat too late or drink caffeine after 4 PM.

Food gives you energy. Keep your dinner or evening snack light, and cut off caffeine in the afternoon around 4 PM. For best results cut out soda pop and tea (except perhaps chamomile since that helps you sleep).

4. Wake Up Earlier.

If you get up earlier in the morning, thanks to an alarm clock, you will have less problems falling asleep at night. It will be rough at first, but you will see much better results once you get used to the routine.

5. Get a regular schedule.

The more routine your sleeping patterns are, the better chance you have to fall asleep. It is inconsistencies that result in bad patterns. Train your body to sleep and wake by sticking to a schedule. It will be hard at first, especially if you are trying to go to bed and wake up earlier. Once the habit is established for 21 days, it will really help cement your sleeping patterns and it will stabilize!

6. Avoid Light / Loud Noises

Get some extra thick curtains for the bedroom which you can pull shut easier. Someone should really invent a device that opens the curtains in the morning on a timer. That would be so awesome. Avoid playing loud music while you are trying to sleep. If you need some kind of noise / music get a fan or turn the volume down really low and set it so it will stop playing in an hour or so.

7. Naps

Afternoon naps, around noon / 1 PM are good for you. Primates (apes, chimpanzees, etc) all take siestas in the afternoon and the human species are supposed to take naps too. That is why in the afternoon you often feel tired around 1 PM, but most people just ignore it and keep working. However if you work from home / have a flexible schedule then taking daily naps is an option for you.

And even if you don't have a flexible schedule try to sneak in a nap or two on the weekends. You will feel better and more well rested.

Live Long and Prosper!

The Importance of Rest Periods

Regardless of whether you are doing Cardio, Endurance training or Weightlifting the importance of having rest periods cannot be ignored.

Your body builds new muscle tissue while you sleep and rest. It is a very common beginners mistake to forget to rest properly.

Lets say for example that your goal is Muscle Gain via Weightlifting - Well then you need to be lifting weights 3 days per week - say Monday, Wednesday, Friday - with plenty of rest in-between your weightlifting sessions.

If you don't have rest periods you will end up taxing your muscles too much and you won't be getting the optimal amount of muscle gain.

In theory you could do weightlifting as much as 3.5 times per week, doing a full body routine every 2nd day and resting in-between.

Or another way to do it would be to only exercise your upper body muscles on odd days and only exercise your lower body muscles on even days of the month. So yes, you could exercise every day of the week, but you would be giving different parts of your body a break on alternating days.

When it comes to Cardio or Endurance training you want to aim for 4 days per week. eg. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, Friday. And you want to work your way up endurance wise so eventually you are doing a single activity - eg. swimming - for 60 to 80 minutes.

But the end result is that you still need time to relax, recuperate and heal from the physical stress of your ordeal.

If you aren't resting it will result in you developing a number of physical and emotional sideeffects, including insomnia, anti-social behaviour and all the other warning signs of Exercise Addiction / hormone deficiencies.

Exercising burns through hormones in your body like crazy. It eats it up. Those hormones affect other things health wise however and even your personality / behaviour. Your body needs rest periods between periods of strenuous exercise so that you can recharge and rebuild, not just ripped muscle tissue, but also to correct hormonal imbalances.

So if you're still feeling guilty about slacking off during the Christmas / Holiday season, don't worry, it was a well deserved rest period.

Note: Sometimes its also necessary to switch to low strain recuperative periods in your exercise routine. Maintenance / Healing phases. Basically instead of exercising really hard and intense you take 2 weeks and just sort of "chill" while you exercise. You still exercise, but you do it at a less intense level and you avoid anything that is painful such as Power Lifting or marathon running.

Such phases also give your body more time to build up / repair any muscles, and is great for if you are recovering from a minor sports injury.

Lastly SLEEP!

Remember that the best sleeping pattern is a 1 hour nap during the day and 5 hours of sleep every night. Failing that the next best thing is 7 to 8 hours of solid sleep per day.

If you have difficulty sneaking in naps during weekdays, try to have 1 or 2 naps every weekend. Naps and sleeping do wonders for your hormone and energy levels, making you feel more alert and more energetic.
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

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