LIVE BETTER…SLEEP BETTER

This blog is adapted from an article written by Santa Monica-based personal trainer and life coach Tanner Martty as part of his 12-week group fitness program.

Stay consistent with the steps you need to take to live better.

  • Drink at least ½ your bodyweight in ounces of water each day
  • Eat a green salad with a variety of raw veggies and fruit
  • Move with intention for 45 minutes at least 4 days/week and move continuously for at least 15 minutes on the other days
  • Do at least 30 minutes of release/mobility work a week. Consider adopting my rule of thumb:  10 minutes of release work for every hour of physical activity and every 4 hours sitting behind a desk.
  • Read all the labels on food you eat and eliminate vegetable oils and processed foods
  • Introduce more healthy fats like coconut oil, MCT oil, olive oil, avocado, Omega 3 oil and organic meat

NOTE:  “Release work” is releasing the knots and tensions in muscles that can lead to aches, pains and injuries.  Foam rolling is a great way to “release.”

We began this journey with the intention to be more compassionate to ourselves, so don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t achieved perfection.  Perfection has never been the goal.

This journey is about becoming aware of a holistic approach, placing your intentions and integrating them into your life long enough to develop sensitivity to how they make you feel.

There are going to be times in this journey when life gets in the way.  When that happens, your job is to respond with equanimity rather than to react negatively.  Responding is being adaptable.  It’s going with the flow.  It’s like water that extinguishes the flames of the fire.  Reacting focuses on the made-up story you create about “why this is happening to me.”  It blames people and circumstances.  It makes comparisons and adds fuel to the fire.

Of course, there are also going to be many times throughout this journey when you’ll be resistant to the habits I’m asking you to integrate.  When that happens, push through the resistance and remind yourself that everything good for you lies on the other side of the resistance.

“How do I know the difference between life getting in the way and my own resistance?”

If you are relieved the circumstances of the day have kept you from staying consistent, then you’re probably resisting the process.

Optimize Your Sleep Chamber

A perfect diet and a consistently daily movement training routine are all for naught if you have poor sleep.  Making some small changes to your sleeping environment (aka: the bedroom) can have a dramatic effect on the quality of your sleep.

The task this week is to optimize your sleep chamber by going through the following checklist:

  • Install blackout curtains to make your room as dark as possible and to help dampen the sound from the street. A very dark and quiet bedroom is optimal for falling into REM sleep.  A sleep mask works well in lieu of blackout curtains.
  • Cool temperature is best (67-70 degrees). If you don’t have A/C, you may consider investing in quiet fans.
  • Remove/fix/replace anything that makes unnecessary noise.
  • Remove any EMG devices from your room, or at the very least unplug them all when you sleep. Electromagnetic devices like your television, phone, laptop, and even alarm clock radio emit waves that can interfere with your brain waves, keeping you from falling into the most restful sleep state.  Anything you have to have (phone alarm) should be moved across the room as far from your head and heart as possible.
  • No work in the bedroom! Your bedroom should be a safe and relaxing place for rest and sex, so don’t bring stress into that environment.  Working in bed sends a conflicting message to your body.  Having a work desk in your room is even worse.

Nighttime Routine

Establishing a nighttime routine that lends itself to a peaceful mind and restful sleep is the goal.  Research shows that looking at flashing lights like the kind from computer screens, smartphones, and televisions stimulate the brain in a way that may interrupt restful sleep.  The effects are exacerbated if whatever you’re engaged in is stressful, like work emails.

Try a 30-45 minute decompression period before going to bed.  During that time, make a commitment to shut down the laptop, put down the phone, turn off the TV and, most importantly, disconnect from work.  Turn down the lights to create a relaxing atmosphere.  Candlelight is optimal and you may enjoy some relaxing music while you prepare for bed.  This whole process is about taking some time for you.  We get so wound up in our day that we sometimes forget to give ourselves the time to unwind.  We’re so used to having everything we want instantly at the tips of our fingers that we start expecting the same out of our bodies.

Lacking in Minerals

Aside from mentally and emotionally winding down, there are several biological reasons that cause poor sleep and restlessness.  All the possibilities are too numerous to cover here, but mineral deficiency, specifically magnesium, is one of the most common reasons.  Magnesium is a mineral that is one of the catalysts for the chemical reaction that relaxes our nervous system, muscles and fascia.  Low magnesium levels can lead to chronic muscle tension, muscle cramping, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, trouble falling asleep and a host of other nervous disorders.

Some of the foods we’ve already recommended, like dark leafy greens and avocados, are very high in magnesium.  Certain nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, and pumpkin seeds are also high in magnesium.  Just a half cup of pumpkin seeds, for example, would give you almost 100% of the recommended daily requirement of magnesium.  Brazil nuts are a particularly good choice because they’re also very high in selenium, which is another trace mineral that most people are low in.  Selenium regulates optimal hormonal function and is the catalyst that allows other important micronutrients from foods you eat to be absorbed.

TIPGuys!  Research shows that eating as few as 3brazil nuts can raise natural testosterone levels.  Look out ladies!

Drinking mineral water is a way to kill two birds with one stone.  You’re getting minerals while you get hydrated.  Gerolsteiner is our personal favorite because of its high mineral content and natural carbonation.  One serving has 100mg of magnesium, 345mg of calcium, 1800mg of bicarbonate and 35mg of potassium, in addition to other minerals.

If you’re low in a certain micronutrient, like magnesium, it takes your body a certain amount of time to build up the levels in the blood, even if you start eating foods that are high in that nutrient.

This is even more pronounced for trace minerals.  That’s when supplementation becomes very helpful.  Try a serving of 300-600mg of magnesium mixed in water 30 minutes before bed.  Natural Calm is a great choice that you can find at Whole Foods and
Trader Joe’s.

Don’t allow all the great work you’ve been doing to be undone by poor sleeping habits.  Initiate these sleep routines and you’ll be amazed at how great you feel each morning and how productive and healthy you feel throughout the day.

Rest is as close to a magic pill as you can find.

Tanner.Martty@gmail.com

ArtSchwartzSig

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