Saturday 25 November 2017

Shape up: For a top workout, be sure to turn in

Damien Maher

If you want to obtain a slim, toned body, there's more to it than exercise and nutrition. Sleep is also a crucial component in the mix.

Our 21st-century lifestyles see us juggle many challenges that our grandfathers never faced. Exposure to thousands of chemicals on a daily basis stresses our hormonal systems but it has been our changed sleep patterns that cause most havoc when trying to get in shape.

TS Wiley, is his book 'Lights Out', said that at the turn of the century, our great-grandfathers were getting 9.5 hours' sleep in winter and eight hours in summer.

Fast forward 100 years and the average time people spend sleeping is between six and seven hours per night. This has been partly caused by events such as the introduction of electricity, which meant people could stay up longer, thus shortening the time they slept.


Light stimulates our sweet cravings and so the longer we stay awake the more sweet cravings we will have. Our body thinks that the cold weather is approaching and we should start to fatten up for the winter ahead -- just like the animal kingdom!

Obese patients' sleep tends to be affected because many have obstructive sleep apnoea, where their airways are blocked, inhibiting their ability to take air in to breathe.

Young parents also struggle with sleep and face a deficit of up to 500 hours in the first two years following the arrival of a new baby.

Research has consistently shown that short sleep duration is associated with weight gain.

Poor sleep patterns are common. New clients at Be Fit For Life usually come in initially with one of three sleep problems.

Some people can't get to sleep. This can be due to anxiety. Completing an 'I am grateful list' before bed helps you to appreciate what you currently have, which helps you reduce levels of anxiety.

The second sleep problem is when people cannot stay asleep. When I consult with clients, the time they wake up will provide clues as to what may be causing their problem. If you wake up soon after you go to bed, it could be a result of reactive hypoglycemia. This is caused by eating foods that turn into sugar very quickly with no proteins or fats to keep the blood sugar balanced.

Dehydration is another reason for a rise in cortisol, the stress hormone that will affect your sleep.

It is also common for clients to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Common but not normal. James Wilson, in his book 'Adrenal Fatigue, 21st Century Stress Syndrome', explains that our adrenal glands, which secrete the stress hormone cortisol, are near burnout. We have 100 times the amount that our grandfathers had.

So the low cortisol can kick-start adrenaline to get you going in the middle of the night, activating your fight or flight system and waking you up to think you need to go to the bathroom.

Antioxidant deficiency and liver toxicity are also mentioned in Chinese medicine for sleep problems, while a magnesium deficiency means that your limbs have a poor time relaxing.

A US government study showed that 68pc of the population were deficient in nutrients such as magnesium. And colleagues of mine have found that 100pc of people engaging in training are magnesium deficient.

Signs and symptoms of a magnesium deficiency are loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting, fatigue, weakness, numbness, muscle contractions and cramp and seizures, as it is involved with over 300 chemical reactions in your body.

We deplete the minerals magnesium and zinc through our pores when sweating and the amount found in the soil today is way lower than was found in the 1950s. The use of fertilisers has reduced the ability of the vegetables to absorb such minerals.

As magnesium affects your ability to stay asleep, it should also be known that it's very important for improving insulin sensitivity, which I spoke about last week. The 'Diabetes Care Journal' in 2004 said: "As magnesium intake increases, insulin resistance decreases."

The last problem with sleep is that some people just can't get up in the mornings. This is where adrenal fatigue becomes manifest. Some people cannot train in the morning and other people won't function without a few cups of early morning coffee or a sugary breakfast.

Coffee is a good antioxidant but the necessity of a coffee versus the desire for one should be noted when you are analysing your current energy levels.

Like any problem or journey, the goal is to know your plan and to avoid the roadblocks. Making time to sleep, taking a magnesium supplement that ends with the suffix -ate ie, magnesium orotate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium malate and magnesium fumarate will help you.

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