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Learn How to Sleep Like a Baby

Learn How to Sleep Like a Baby

Which of these situations have happened to you?

  • Tuning out at an important client meeting despite efforts to stay focused.
  • Begging off from Friday night out with friends three weeks in a row because of tiredness.
  • Midday lethargy that improves slightly after taking a cup of coffee.
  • Your spouse or children complain that you’re not listening.
  • Dozing off halfway through a movie.
  • Getting breathless soon after you start exercise.
  • You’ve got dark circles under your eyes no amount of concealer can get rid of.

Ticking off even just one of the above could indicate problems with sleep.  The good news is you don’t need to spend a fortune to get high-quality sleep.

It’s much more than just your body going on “sleep” mode.

In the book, “Fit for Life II: Living Health,” authors Harvey and Marilyn Diamond list sleep as the fourth element of health after air, water, and food. Our busy lifestyles produce more things to do in a day and we often sacrifice sleep. We assume shaving off a few hours from something we spend a third of our day doing wont hurt.  But It will!

Energy is what keeps us functioning and we use it up every day.  When we ran out of energy, we are in a state of enervation.  Sleep is when the body regenerates energy even as  other  important processes are also taking place – tissue repair, healing, cell replacements, and moving waste for elimination. When you limit sleep, you stop your body’s natural energy-recharging mechanism.  You don’t think twice about working on your presentation until 2 a.m, a mere few hours before you leave for a business trip.  But that’s no different from packing your laptop and leaving the charger! You’ll be running on empty.

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There’s no such thing as oversleeping.

How much sleep is enough? Enough is when the body has reloaded on lost energy and completed the other processes mentioned above.  Depending on the day’s energy expenditure and the quality of sleep, some people manage well with 6 hours while others absolutely need 10.  Ideally (when we don’t allow energy drinks and artificial stimulants to interfere) we sleep when we get tired.  And when the body is ready, we then naturally wake up.  There’s no such thing as oversleeping because your body simply claims the sleep it needs. It warns you when your energy levels are low. Don’t “dismiss” the message – like you would on your cell phone.

Quality over quantity: Make every sleeping minute count.

So you’ve set your alarm, switched off the lights, and are looking forward to a restful sleep.  Two hours later, you’re still staring at the ceiling while your mind replays the day’s scenes or tomorrow’s list of To-Do’s.  When that happens to me, I know the culprit is afternoon coffee, a cola drink, or chocolate and I kick myself for forgetting!

Here are other factors that affect good quality sleep.

Food:

Caffeine may not affect other people’s sleep quality, but a heavy dinner will.  Eating a lot at dinner, especially when meat is part of the menu, requires increased energy expenditure for digestion.  Harvey and Marilyn Diamond ascribe to food combining and following the body’s circadian rhythm.  To be in rhythm, don’t eat beyond 8:00 p.m. or at the very least, not within two hours of sleeping.  Otherwise, the food is poorly digested because of dwindling energy.  It’s like downloading a huge file on Torrent with just 5% of battery life.

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Air:

During sleep, the assimilation process – absorbing nutrients from digested food – also takes place. Oxygen from fresh air is needed and greatly aids the process.  We know from 4th grade Biology class that humans inhale beneficial oxygen and exhale harmful (to humans) carbon dioxide. If you sleep in an enclosed room, you are breathing stale air so don’t be surprised if you wake up tired.  And the more people you share that enclosed room with, the more stale air (carbon dioxide) you breathe in.  Open your window to allow fresh air in.   Turn off your air conditioning.  Consider a small portable fan placed a comfortable distance from you.  You save on energy plus its soft whirring sound can lull you to sleep.

Bright lights:

When nighttime and darkness comes, the body naturally produces  the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.  Light affects your body’s ability to produce melatonin. During winter season when the nights are longer, the body produces melatonin earlier in the night. Conversely, bright lights filtering into your bedroom will slow down your body’s production of melatonin.  Put on a sleep mask or tie a scarf around your eye area to simulate darkness necessary to get quality sleep.  This works well too when you need a quick cat nap during the day.

Electromagnetic Field (EMF)  Exposure:

EMF is an invisible area of energy that surrounds wiring and electric devices. Joseph Mercola, alternative medicine and osteopathic doctor, explains the EMF components.

Electric field is created by voltage or the force which pushes the electricity through wires.  Electric fields can be shielded physically by walls or other barriers.

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Magnetic field is created by the current or amount of electricity being pushed and is concerning because it can travel through barriers over long distances and is hard to block.

EMF exposure comes from cell phones, computers and wireless internet, non-corded portable phones, electric alarm clocks, lamps and wiring, among others.  Dr. Mercola’s advice: Turn off everything electrical in your sleeping area, including WI-FI (modems/routers), cell phones, and portable phones.  Position your head at least 3-to-6 feet from electrical outlets.

Exercise:

The National Sleep Foundation “2013 Sleep in America Poll” surveyed 1000 adults, between the ages of 23 and 60.  Major findings showed:

  • Self-described exercisers report better sleep.
  • Vigorous exercisers report the best sleep.
  • Non-exercisers are more sleepy at daytime.
  • Exercise at any time of day appears good for sleep.
  • Less time sitting is associated with better sleep and health.

This is the first poll result that shows spending too much time sitting might negatively affect sleep quality.

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The bi-directional relationship between sleep and exercise was the subject of researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.  The effect of sleep on exercise was immediate, with subjects managing only short exercise sessions after sleeping poorly.

Aerobic exercise (20-30 minutes) improves sleep quality but try not to exercise within two hours of bedtime.  And it’s best to skip exercise if you slept poorly the previous night.

More Good-Snooze Tips:

Clinical psychologist and sleep expert Michael Breus, PhD offers realistic, practical advice:

  • Take your highest caffeine content beverage in the morning and taper through the day. Starting at 2 p.m, switch to fruit juice or water.
  • Try not to use the bedroom except for sleeping and intimacy to gain “stimulus control” that associates the bedroom with sleep.  If you need to read in bed, use a book light to avoid direct light in eyes.
  • Sleep at the same time every night so your body gets into a rhythm.
  • Practice Jacobsonian muscle relaxation techniques – tensing and relaxing muscle groups.

If you think it’s a hassle to work at getting enough quality sleep, revisit the situations listed at the start of this article.  Are you willing to sacrifice your health, relationships, and career due to a weakened  immune system, impaired mental alertness, and irritability or inattention?  Getting a good night’s sleep is natural, expense-free protection against challenges thrown your way.  When you sleep like a baby, you can make child’s play of work-life stress. The bonus: clear, bright eyes – no dark circles, no puffiness, and no concealer necessary.

Featured photo credit: kakisky via morguefile.com

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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