Today I start in earnest to cover the ABCs of sleep – yes, we’ll get to the latest technologies later… but there are some things that remain VITAL for you to remain VITAL. And vital during the day, means tired at night, and hopefully zzz.
So the A of sleep for me is EXERCISE …. I’m hoping you didn’t reply ‘boring’ to that, and I know some of you just did – otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog. This tip could single-handedly fix some sleep problems – so it’s time to listen up.
- Duh! We need it every day… or at least most days of the week. It doesn’t have to be painful, punishing, lifting weights and pumping iron… but it does have to happen. If you’re not getting enough, or you’re overweight – I recommend walking … in fact I recommend walking to a lot of people. If it’s doable and easy – you’ll do it. If it means signing up to an expensive gym, and punishing yourself each time… you might not do it (in fact, most don’t)! So try 45 minutes to an hour of walking 4 days a week… think ‘every day’ – then you can still use the fact that it is pouring with rain on Tuesday as an excuse (and yes, you can do it in a raincoat… with a hood – Drizabone brand coats are great… use one myself … have you seen the movie Australia yet?). (Walking in the rain can be fun, actually – puts a new perspective on life – and no, it’s not fatal – we are waterproof! So many people don’t want to get wet! Hello!). So aim for a walk every day, then feel a bit flexible when something crops up.
- Exercise to stay trim and gorgeous. Yep, that’s a good enough reason by itself. Furthermore, if you lose weight you are less likely to snore and suffer from sleep apnea. Trim people have better health all round, it’s not just advantageous around sleep. And your self esteem can stay up – attracting more great people, fun and other stuff into your life! If you’re not one of the beautiful people, it’s time to count yourself in.
- Exercise to reduce stress and anxiety… Two of the big reasons people either can’t sleep or wake in the middle of the night. If you ignore stress and anxiety for a while – you can next face the idea of depression – which is often indicated by waking up too early, without being able to get back to sleep. There aren’t any short cuts here … you ignore a problem – it doesn’t get better. Wake up!
- Sex is included in exercise! That sounds like fun. (And yes, it can last for more than 3 minutes!!!) Have just read a fun article on sex to reduce stress, here’s the link: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2006/02/09/stressful-events-made-easier-by-making-love.aspx – there’s a funny comment at the bottom of the page you might like too … so yea, go do!
- Exercise to strengthen your body and build muscle tone. A strong body equates to a strong and resolved mind – particularly relevant if you’re anxious.
- Exercise to get tired … too obvious?
- Exercise to quieten your overactive mind … and to create a transition from work, mental activity and frenetic thought processes, and detail of any description. All those mental patterns are not good for switching off and passing out.
- Exercise to spend time in nature. Does that sound a bit woo woo? If so, look again … Walking in nature will bring your mind down, allow you to breathe more slowly, put your problems into perspective, give yourself some you-time. Self-care.
- Exercise to improve your attitude. Yes, probably should have been number one! A good attitude rules everything you do. Remember when you’re grumpy after a bad night’s sleep everyone is suffering – give THEM a break! And it will improve your relationships too.
- “Exercise is the best way to gobble up excess cortisol” Dr Christiane Northrup. (Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and is involved in response to stress and anxiety. It is produced in the adrenal cortex, that is part of the adrenal gland. It increases blood pressure and blood sugar and reduces immune responses. So exercise to reduce the adverse effects of excess cortisol.)
So, I know how hard it can be to exercise when you’re overweight, or not fit, or too busy – so here are a few tips from me, from personal experience:
MENTALITY: If you think of exercise as a drag… begin with walking. To get out of the house DON’T THINK: “I’m going to be walking for an hour, it’s going to be exhausting and a long time… etc.” DO THINK: “I just have to get out the door – get my iPod, put my shoes on, once I’m on the verandah I’m there!” The rest will take care of itself, believe me… I’ve been there. It can change your life.
RITUALISE THE PROCESS (this expression, thanks to Siimon Reyolds): Make it same time every day, then you won’t have your mind arguing with you. Eliminate the decision making process. e.g. “It’s 7.00 am – it’s walk time” will soon become a habit.
YOUNG CHILDREN TO LOOK AFTER, AND OTHER CHALLENGES: Somehow this has to be strategised. Who can I get to help me with this? Can I join up with my neighbour and we both help each other? Will my partner look after the kids in the morning, so I get my walk? Can we have dinner a little later, or walk together, etc. And ritualise that.
EAT A FROG FOR BREAKFAST: (This expression originally from Brian Tracy I think) – do the walk FIRST thing of the day… it’ll give you a lift first thing, ‘cos it’s DONE!
AND FOR THE BUSY TYPES: Listen to your iPod on your walk… it doesn’t have to be music, it can be a training course, the latest from the greatest in your field… all fabulous stuff. My iPod is stacked full of that stuff… some music, but mainly trainings, downloaded coaching calls, the big think, all that. Now, we’re talking …
So good luck… the benefits of exercise will take a little time, but just do it anyway… soon you won’t be able to live without it.
So what’s A actually for? ACTION.
It’s the first thing I do in the morning, and it gets me in the right frame of mind every day.
Good luck, sleep tight