Better Health and Fitness
Better Health and Fitness

Fitness Tip - Rest, Sleep and Relaxation

Sleep, rest and relaxation are a very important part of your daily ritual. I know that in the past I have gotten reved up with many projects and before long something has to be let go and it is usually the sleep that I need for a while. Don’t do it! As your sleep and rest start dropping you lose focus and can be lured into bad habits, sugar, coffee, and bad food. The worst thing about a lack of rest is that your body will not have a chance to heal from your earlier workouts, this can be very bad as you not only will feel sore longer but it will also suck your optimism for your new lifestyle.

How much rest is enough? You probably already know this. I myself do not wake up with an alarm clock or clock radio anymore. I am fortunate to have a flexible start time and know that I will not sleep in past 8:00 in the morning. Try going to be earlier in the evening for a few nights and see when you wake up. In the fall and winter I always tape the TV shows that I watch so that I can get a chance to watch them when it is convenient to me not when it is convenient for the TV networks. Another thing that pro bodybuilders do is have a nap in the afternoon, a nap can be great in cleansing your mind and letting you learn to relax better but you will probably find as I do that it is almost impossible to do except maybe on the weekends.

You can probably see from the tone of this information that I am delivering here that you must stop treating sleep and rest as something that takes away from something and instead learn to treat it as your own personal time, something a little more sacred than just something unavoidable that has to be done.

According to leading sleep researchers, there are techniques to combat common sleep problems:

Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule
Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize daytime use
Don’t smoke, especially near bedtime or if you awake in the night
Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep
Get regular exercise
Minimize noise, light and excessive hot and cold temperatures where you sleep
Develop a regular bed time and go to bed at the same time each night
Try and wake up without an alarm clock
Attempt to go to bed earlier every night for certain period; this will ensure that you’re getting enough sleep

According to sleep researchers, a night's sleep is divided into five continually shifting stages, defined by types of brain waves that reflect either lighter or deeper sleep. Toward morning, there is an increase in rapid eye movement, or REM sleep, when the muscles are relaxed and dreaming occurs, and recent memories may be consolidated in the brain. The experts say that hitting a snooze alarm over and over again to wake up is not the best way to feel rested. “The restorative value of rest is diminished, especially when the increments are short,” said psychologist Edward Stepanski, PhD who has studied sleep fragmentation at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. This on and off again effect of dozing and waking causes shifts in the brain-wave patterns. Sleep-deprived snooze-button addicts are likely to shorten their quota of REM sleep, impairing their mental functioning during the day. (New York Times, October 12, 2004)

Certain therapies, like cognitive behavioral therapy teach people how to recognize and change patterns of thought and behavior to solve their problems. Recently this type of therapy has been shown to be very effective in getting people to fall asleep and conquer insomnia.
According to a study published in the October 2004 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine, cognitive behavior therapy is more effective and lasts longer than a widely used sleeping pill, Ambien, in reducing insomnia. The study involved 63 healthy people with insomnia who were randomly assigned to receive Ambien, the cognitive behavior therapy, both or a placebo. The patients in the therapy group received five 30-minute sessions over six weeks. They were given daily exercises to “recognize, challenge and change stress-inducing” thoughts and were taught techniques, like delaying bedtime or getting up to read if they were unable to fall asleep after 20 minutes. The patients taking Ambien were on a full dose for a month and then were weaned off the drug. At three weeks, 44 percent of the patients receiving the therapy and those receiving the combination therapy and pills fell asleep faster compared to 29 percent of the patients taking only the sleeping pills. Two weeks after all the treatment was over, the patients receiving the therapy fell asleep in half the time it took before the study and only 17 percent of the patients taking the sleeping pills fell asleep in half the time. (New York Times, October 5, 2004)

Copyright 2005 Bill Nadraszky
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Weight Training Part 1
Weight Training Part 2
Goal Setting
Sleep, Rest and Relaxation
Fats in your diet
And My Favorite Diet Plan
Breads and Vegetables
The Power of dramatic change
Do I stay in better health with exercise?
What to look for in an Elliptical Trainer
Take It Easy Getting Started
Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle
What Is The Glycemic Index
Toning Your Abs

10 Ways To Cut Calories

How to Structure a Weight Workout
Why Do Cardio Training
No Excuse For Not Exercising


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