The Importance of Good Sleep

Ah, Sleep! There’s nothing quite like a good deep sleep to leave you feeling refreshed and ready to start your day. As little as two consecutive nights of bad sleep can leave you feeling groggy and irritable, but good sleep has far more benefits than the otherwise obvious. Sure, a good night’s sleep sets you up for a less grumpy day, and it might help keep those pesky bags-under-the-eye at bay, but good sleep is also worth so much more.

Here are just a few reasons for you to consider a slightly earlier bedtime:

Healthy Brain Function

A good night’s sleep goes a long way to keeping your brain functioning at optimum levels. Sleep prepares you mentally to face the next day and ultimately allows you the capacity to make decisions, solve problems, and cope with change.

Emotional Wellbeing

Lack of sleep can lead to various mental ailments such as stress and depression. Bad sleeping patterns can also lead to difficulty with focus and concentration, which can in turn lead to struggles that ultimately lead to stress and more lack of sleep. Staying out of this vicious cycle is exceptionally important to your sunny disposition.

Physical Health

You body performs all sorts of healing functions while you sleep. The heart and blood vessels especially benefit from a good night’s sleep, lowering your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Immune System

Good sleep plays a vital role in the way your immune system works. Compromised sleep may result in your immune systems response going off kilter, which will lead to your body struggle to fight off even the simplest of colds.

Appetite & Obesity

A good night’s sleep helps to maintain the balance between hunger and satiation hormones. Bad sleeping patterns may cause you to feel unnecessarily hungry all the time. Regular lack of sleep is also known to increase the risk of obesity.

Exercise without exercising (Part 5)

This is the last instalment in my exercise for lazy (I mean busy!) people series and as a lazy (I mean busy!) person myself I find these last few tips pretty awesome because you get to cross two things off of your things-to-feel-guilty-about list for the price of one. That’s right. Follow these tips and not only will you get to feel good about getting your blood pumping a little but you will also get to feel a little smiley about doing some good things around the best place in the world: your home.

Do your chores.

Forget the old adage “a tidy home is the sign of a wasted life” and get cleaning. As homemakers we sometimes tend to make do with the bare minimum when it comes to house work, but all that floor scrubbing, sweeping, dusting, mopping and polishing is great for toning your muscles and getting your blood flowing. Put on some music and dance while you do the dishes and wash the windows and delight in the fact that both you and your home are getting a make-over.

Learn to do basic maintenance.

Do you have a fence that needs mending? A broken tap? Some tiles that need to be laid or a wall that needs to be painted? Do it yourself. Instead of spending money on getting someone else to come in and do these things, rather learn how to do these kinds of chores yourself and reap the health benefits as well as the money-saving benefits of your hard work.

Start gardening.

Gardening takes a lot of hard work and maintenance and it is certainly not for the fainthearted. All that weeding, digging and watering takes a nice amount of effort on your part. Weather you plant veggies or flowers there are few things as satisfying as seeing your efforts come to fruition, so again you’ve got a great two-for-one deal. Actually, if you’re planting veggies you get three-for-one: exercise, a sense of achievement and beautifully grown organic food which is healthy.

You see? Being active can be as simple as just getting out there and living your life…

 

Exercise without exercising (Part 4)

In this series we have been chatting about how to incorporate a little bit of calorie-burning activity into your daily lifestyle without necessarily rushing off to hit it hard at the gym and today I want to bring in a little bit of family fun and togetherness. A happy family life goes a long way towards any individual’s wellbeing – wellbeing is mental as well as physical, after all.

Here are some family-oriented tips on getting that blood flowing without putting in too much effort.

Buy a Wii.

The Wii is a great alternative to traditional sit-on-the-couch gaming as you have to get up and move in order to play it. While there are Wii Fit options that are specifically geared towards exercise, just about any Wii game demands a bit of action on your part. So get a Wii. The kids will love you for it and it takes next to no effort to organize a weekly Wii marathon with your spouse and kiddies (or even just your friends!) If you’re not sure what games you want then rent a couple from your nearest video store (while we still have them!) to help you figure out what you enjoy most.

Of course, there are other gaming consoles that allow for movement as well. Choose which works best for you.

Play with the kids.

Really. Don’t just take them to the park or the beach and watch them play. Play with them. Kick around a ball or play a game of catch or simply chase them around. Not only will you burn off a couple of unwanted calories but you will also build and even stronger bond between you and your family. If you don’t have kids, then play with your nieces and nephews, or your friends’ kids. Or play with your significant other. But play. It’s good for you.

Get a dog.

Dogs need to be walked. And sometimes they make you chase them down the road when they have stolen your underwear off of the washing line. Dogs are awesome. Get a dog. Not sure about this one? Visit your local animal shelter and ask to walk some of the animals there. You’ll quickly fall in love and find the perfect fit for you. And you’ll be saving a life!

Climb a tree.

When last did you climb a tree? Do your kids know how to climb trees? Teach them! Your core will get an awesome workout just by keeping you from falling out of that tree.

Get a ping-pong table or a basketball hoop.

And then? Play with your kids some more! Ping-pong is a pretty fast paced game and shooting baskets is not only fun but it can be incredibly therapeutic if you’re doing it on your own and a lot of fun if you’re playing with others. Neither of these items takes up too much space, so no excuses!

Simple, right? Which one are you going to do today?

 

Exercise without exercising (Part 3)

The idea that exercise has to be a formal and organized routine is a killer for many folk on the road to living a well-balanced and healthy life. The rigidity that we typically assign to the idea of exercise can be so off-putting that many of us barely start before we find ourselves quitting. Luckily a small change in mind-set could be quite a difference maker when it comes to your goal of getting more active, because being active is simply about being active. Granted making some simple changes to your daily routine might not turn you into Halle Berry, adding a little activity will most certainly go a long way to maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your body a little fitter and it is also good for your stress levels.

Here are some more tricks to try:

Use a pedometer.

Some studies have shown that people who use a pedometer ten to walk 27% more. You don’t have to set yourself a crazy impossible goal to achieve, all you need to do is monitor your progress. The simple act of monitoring your progress will motivate you to walk more. You don’t have to get anything fancy- those watches can be very expensive! Something as simple as an app on your phone will work. Anything that allows you to compare today’s progress with yesterday’s.

Stretch while you watch TV.

We all love TV. We all know that we should watch less of it, but most of us don’t. So why not try to use your TV time for a bit of stretching? You could even try a couple of yoga or pilates exercises which you catch up on your favourite show.

Dance when you are out.

If you’re out with friends you might as well strut your stuff on the dance floor. Why? It’s fun. You will sweat – a lot – but it doesn’t matter because everyone else is sweating too. You will get your blood flowing. You will suffer a lesser hangover. I can’t think of any cons.

Trade your desk chair for a stability ball.

It might sound crazy but sitting on a ball is actually pretty comfortable (yes – I know this from experience!) and it does wonders for your posture and your core muscles. It also seems to cause less stress on your back and hips. And when you’re done sitting on the ball you can do a couple of v-core exercises. Just quickly. While no one is watching.

Take part in a group sport.

You don’t have to be a pro to have fun playing sport with a casual club. Take up squash or hockey or soccer. Whatever sport you like.

Go shopping.

Stroll around the mall. Malls are big. There is lots to see. Many calories to burn. Just don’t snack on ice cream while you do it. Easy peasy!

Is any of this sounding hard yet?