I’ve been poorly with a virus after weeks struggling with energy levels. So how do you improve energy levels and therefore fitness?
Having read various articles and papers by experts, plus watched some really interesting documentaries, I’ve decided to collate some points of interest.
The first point is you need to get enough sleep and most of us do not. The UK is known to be a sleep deprived nation. Insomniac Michael Mosley (Presenter of the documentary The Truth about Sleep) confesses that he usually wakes every night at 4 am and reads for a bit until he is able to sleep. So he investigated why we are so sleep deprived. It seems easier to sleep when you are younger, but harder as life goes on.
The Sleep On-set Latency Test
To find out if you are sleep deprived, see if you can nod off in the middle of the afternoon. Hold a metal spoon over a metal tray and see how long you can hold the spoon. If it drops before ten minutes, then you are sleep deprived. If before five minutes, then you have severe sleep deprivation.
How Much Rest Do We Need?
Apparently, you should get between eight to nine hours sleep, but many do not achieve this. In fact, as a nation, we sleep 1-2 hours less than 60 years ago. When we do hit the sack, our quality of sleep is worse and a third of us suffer from insomnia.
Caffeine and alcohol have a diverse effect on our sleep patterns and may cause snoring which, disrupts the partner’s sleep as well.
Sleeping pills are not the answer which is no surprise. They may possibly help for a few days but can be addictive as you build up a tolerance.
The biggest surprise, for me, is sleep deprivation can cause health issues such a Type 2 diabetes and obesity. This shocked me. Dr Helen Scott, from the University of Leeds has been researching this:
“We know that a lack of sleep alters different hormones that are involved in how we perceive appetite and hunger,” she explains.
“So we get more of the hormones that cause us to feel hungry and less of the ones that cause us to feel full.
“There.. [are].. some big studies suggest that people who sleep too little, and indeed those who sleep too much,…it’s associated with the development of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.”
Mosley’s documentary about sleep, investigated a few solutions which you may like to try…
Controlling your breathing can reduce stress. This approach is known as 4-2-4
– Breathe in deeply through your nose while mentally counting to 4.
– Hold your breath to a count of 2.
– Breathe out through your mouth to a count of 4.
– Try doing this for 3 to 4 minutes. It should feel relaxing.
2. Have a warm bath or shower 1-2 hours before going to bed, then allow yourself to cool. The act of cooling should trigger sleepiness
3. Eat two Kiwi fruit an hour before bed. A study done over 4 weeks found that this improved quality and quantity of sleep.
4. Remove electronic devices from the bedroom and turn off all screens at least an hour before bed. That includes TV, computers, mobile phone and all social media.
5. If you are a regular drinker then try skipping alcohol for a few days. Although it may help you go to sleep, alcohol also tends to disrupt sleep
6. Go for a 20 minute walk or a run first thing in the morning. The early morning light should help reset your internal clock, making sleep easier.
There is some science behind no. 2. A warm bath will increase your temperature and then drop when you experience cold air. This helps you to fall asleep.
Put away devices, because the blue light, is a good and vital point (that I don’t always follow myself). Plus alcohol will disrupt your sleep. Damn it!
Do the sleep challenge here.
More about gaining energy in Part 2…