With the school runs to do, packed lunches to make, and jobs to hold down, it’s one stress after the other, and sleep is at the bottom of our list of priorities. But it’s high time that sleep came first. Catch more “Zs” and life will feel fantastic again…

THE BUSY lives of working mothers and business people mean they’re constantly tired, with one errand to be performed right after another. Sleep, it now seems, is seen as a luxury, not a necessity.  The sleep deprivation that people experience today is linked with an increase in heart disease, cancer and obesity.

Back in 1910, people were getting between nine and 10 hours of sleep a night. These hours meant our bodies were sticking to nature’s guidelines of 4,370 hours — or half of the 8760 hours — in a year.  Today, it’s down to 2,555 or between six and seven hours of sleep a night.

The time bandits responsible for this are the introduction of television in the 1950s, email in the 1990s and the ever-increasing traffic on our roads.  In addition, working hours have increased from 35 hours a week in the 1970s to the 50 (and more) expected by employers today.  Our leisure activity has been slashed from 27 hours to 15 and the types of work we do have altered from being manual labour to office-based.

These changes in our daily routines have seen an increase of 840 waking hours, and I firmly believe that it has contributed to rising obesity rates.  Over the years, we’ve been told by health “experts” to reduce fats and proteins and to eat a higher carbohydrate low-fat diet! This constant promotion of carbohydrates and low-fat diets has seen people eat more fat-storing foods and gain more weight while their sleep has continually been reduced.

Better sleep

So what tips can we give you to help improve your sleep? Strength coach Charles Poliquin recommends:

  • Hydrate yourself: dehydration leads to an increase in stress hormone cortisol, that can affect your sleep. The use of stimulants such as caffeine after 1pm will also harm your ability to sleep soundly.
  • Take a hydrochloric acid test: if you are not absorbing the nutrients from your food, you may be deficient in zinc and magnesium, which can affect your sleep.
  • Set up the “Bat Cave”: your bedroom should be pitch black.
  • The largest growth hormone release occurs 30-60 minutes after sleep and it is this growth hormone that will help you build muscle to burn fat.
  • Get to bed before 10pm. Your body physically heals between the hours of 10pm and 2am. Your nervous system heals between 2am and 6am.
  • Look at the “meridian influence”. Chinese medicine says that if you wake up between 1am and 3am, it is linked with poor liver function. Waking between 3am and 5am shows poor anti-oxidants intake.

By following these recommendations, you will go a long way to repaying your sleep debt.

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