Friday, July 30, 2010

Rest up and stress less

A large part of our daily lives are spent running around trying to do a million things at once.  No wonder our stress levels are starting to sky rocket.  Everyone suffers from stress in different ways, however our bodies physiological responses are very similar. 

When we experience stress our nervous system floods our body with adrenaline and cortisol, the 2 main stress hormones.  They spark the body ready for action.  Our heart starts to beat faster, the blood pressure rises, you become more alert, breath quicken and muscles tense up.  Your body is preparing you for the emergency ahead...whether you fight or flee from the action.

That kind of response is fine and actually quite useful in an emergency situation, however it is extremely damaging when we are exposed to that level of stress on a daily basis.  So how do we help ease the stress?

Daily movement and optimal nutrition assist us in managing our stress levels and the effect it has on our bodies, however even when these are at their best we still need to rest and allow our bodies time to heal and recover.

When talking about rest we are referring to the amount of sleep we get each night.  There have been numerous studies that have varied comments on how much sleep is ideal.  It does depend on how much activity you are doing throughout the day.  For instance, someone training for a marathon needs up to 9 hours sleep per day (H. Edmunds, Runners World, page 34).  However for the rest of us, it is estimated at between 7-9 hours for true recovery, regardless of how much exercise you are doing.  Some top sleep tips are:
  • Routine, routine, routine! Get to bed and wake up at the same time every day...yes even on weekends!  Have a well established bed time and morning routine.  This could mean a herbal tea before bed or some light reading.
  • Cut the caffeine.  Try to avoid caffeine after 2pm.  Yes this does include the dark chocolate squares for dessert!
  • Create the 'bat cave'.  Keep your bedroom as dark as possible by getting block out shades or heavy drapes.  Steer clear of too many electronic gadgets in your bedroom and avoid using them before bedtime.
  • Hydrate!  Make sure you keep your hydration levels up at around the 2litre mark each day.  Decent hydration enables a much sounder sleep.
Inadequate sleep during the week means we start to build up 'sleep debt'.  Once this starts to occur we are less able to cope with the normal 'stressors' that come with daily life.  Give the top tips a try and not only will you be sleeping better but your stress levels should start to lower as well.

emit your life!

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