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No time for sleep - got to diet and exercise

November 28, 2016


Sleep, diet and exercise. In THAT order.

In our modern day culture, success means having it all: The high-end career, the fancy car and the hot bod. For most of us, this means waking up early to grab that morning jog and to snarf a healthy breakfast. It means eating greens at your desk, working during lunch and networking everywhere else. It means gym right after work, then drinks and skinless chicken with people you hardly know. It means a midnight snack of celery when you’re still up at midnight, wading through last week’s work. In means that, after four hours of fitful sleep, you wake up tired and groggy and have to do it all over again. But that’s the price you pay for doing it all and getting it all, right?

Wrong! How many times have you gone to the trouble of reading the product label on some new diet cereal or weight-loss pill or muscle supplement only to be informed that it is to be taken with “regular diet and exercise”? Ever wonder why, if you’re getting all that, you can’t seem to drop those last few kilos? Why getting out of bed is a chore? Why you don’t feel as healthy as look? It’s because you’re probably not getting enough sleep. Without sleep, the healthy balance your body maintains begins to break down. That’s because “sleep” is missing from “regular diet and exercise”.

The first culprit is caffeine. You can call it a stimulant if you want, as long as you pronounce it “DRUG”. Yes, it is a necessary evil. But over time its effects can begin to linger, keeping you from sleep when you really, really need it. Add to that, most caffeinated drinks end up containing refined sugar, which is as bad for the waistline as it is for the lie-down.

Exercise is another factor. Ask any bodybuilder. For muscles to grow, they also need rest. Sleep might not be a muscle but it needs regular and adequate exercising. A study at the University of Chicago in 1999 showed that when healthy, young adults get only four hours of sleep every night for a week, their insulin and glucose levels start to resemble those of diabetics. That means less energy for exercise.

Exercising at the wrong time can also keep you from sleep. It can take your body up to six hours after a proper cardiovascular workout to cool to the point where it can slip easily into sleep. And lingering exhaustion might keep you from the gym entirely the next day.

Plus, sleep can affect your appetite. Inadequate sleep causes lower leptin levels (an appetite regulating hormone). Worse: the body sometimes has trouble differentiating between need for sleep and need for food. So while you might think you’re having a midnight craving for chocolate pancakes, you really just need a nap. Often you’ve got chocolate chip fillings and a milk mustache before you realise the difference.

The moral of the story is this: whatever you may think, you are not following a proper diet and exercise programme if your programme does not allow for a thorough, deep, honest-to-Morpheus night of sleep.

Now stop surfing the internet at 02:00 in the morning and go to bed.


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