Why Is Enough Sleep Not Enough?
What is Your Schedule Looking Like?
Many of us hit the snooze button every day before work and know that while we went to bed at a reasonable hour, and got that either hours of sleep, we still want an extra few minutes more. Then we wake and stumble for the coffee and quench that need for the shower to wake up. Then perhaps on the way to work we have another cup of coffee and as soon as the caffeine crash hits, we go to pour some more and wonder, "Why am I so tired? I got a good night's rest last night."
First things first, the key to not feeling tired despite getting enough sleep is having a regular sleep schedule. While we have evolved technologically and mentally for alarm clocks and cars and telephones and all those wonderful things that make things easier to do in our busy world, biologically we are still designed to rise and set with the sun. While of course the sun's hours of rising and setting are different depending on the time of the year, there is still a note of regularity. If you begin by training your body to want to go to bed at ten every night so that you can rise at 6 with a full eight hours of sleep under your belt, then eventually your body will fall into that schedule, and you might not have to force yourself to go to bed at that early time, and eventually might not even need to set that alarm clock.
Another thing to consider when getting used to a sleep schedule is, like I said earlier, the seasons. Naturally there is less food in the winter, and so we want to conserve our energy by sleeping more. We are diurnal creatures, meaning we exist during the day. Sometimes it isn't possible to wake with the sun in the winter due to work schedules, and really, no one wants to go to bed at 4 in the afternoon. But what is suggested is to be slightly more docile during the dark hours if sleeping is not possible. I know that when I listen to my body during the winter, I am more tired, and have less energy to get things done, whereas in the summer I'm full of fuel and bouncing off the walls.
What's Your Groove?
Another thing too is exercise. One doesn't get as good of quality sleep when they don't get enough exercise (though I'm not one to talk). The human body, just like any other natural creature out there, is designed for the outdoors, we are designed to be gathering, hunting, and being physical.
The unfortunate truth is that our modern busy life styles don't allow for much physical exercise or perhaps it's just not our thing. However, it is easy to get eased into some simple yoga in the morning before you jump in the shower, or perhaps purchase a yoga ball and sit and bounce on it while moving your arms and legs - basically getting your heart pumping - while you watch television. Try walking to work or the store swiftly instead of driving. Get creative! Make that heart work and that blood flow. This will do two things:
Help your brain to function better as it will be receiving more oxygen flow
cause your brain to want to shut off at night as well as your body to relax.
The latter is not be confused with exhaustion. The goal isn't to exhaust yourself, but just to improve your quality of sleep.
Once you begin moving more by these simple starter exercises, you'll find that you feel more energetic, and want to be more active, and in little ways you'll surprise yourself by making time for longer walks, for trickier yoga positions, for perhaps doing some laps at the pool, or even turning walks to the store into jogs to the store.
Eating for Lethargy
And thirdly is diet. A diet rich in junk food, insta-foods, salts, and all that delicious quick foods the world tells us not to have causes our bodies to work harder to process it. Most foods that you get a hold of now have some level of toxin in it. Whether it's the high levels of sodium, growth hormones, chemical sprays, MSG or margarine. Even organic food has a level of chemical allowance to it for your ingesting pleasure, and just cooking your food can alter it chemically to things our bodies aren't meant to consume - such as carcinogens from that extra tasty blackened flavor. Sometimes the body just can't even digest some of the foods we put in it, so the food only makes it as far as our colon, and sets up camp for a while...a very long while in some cases.
While it's chilling there it's adding weight to our bodies, and it's blocking the passage way for other most easily digested foods and soft expelable waste, making it difficult to sift out the stuffs our bodies don't want. Along the way these foods like to catch other bits of food for company in the colon resulting in constipation in various degrees. Constipation is very common in our culture, and something not often worried about aside form the discomfort it can cause. However, these products that have not been fully digested, like anything else, will begin to rot in the warm damp temperatures of the colon housing, at which point bacteria (and not the good bacteria either) can grow.
Bacteria makes for a comfortable setting for worms. Worms in themselves will cause lethargy, bad body odor, depression, insomnia and so on, generally weakening the immune system and once again, making your body work harder, causing your mind to feel as though it is covered in a thick blanket of cobwebs.
A healthy diet should include plenty of green vegetables, and cooked very little, raw if possible. It's easy to make little switches to a healthier diet. Be sure to cook your own meals opposed to buying the ready made, switch pastas and rice and any other flour products to whole wheat or "brown". White flour products and white rise have been bleached of their nutrients then "enriched" with synthetic nutrients to replace what was taken out to begin with. Our bodies can't digest most of these synthetic things, which busies up our liver and kidneys. Also white flour products have a very gummy effect in our colons and like to stick to the walls, and catch other things that pass by. Whole wheat products and brown rice will do exactly the opposite, helping to clear the colon and will provide lots of fiber and vitamins and minerals aid your body's battle against antagonists.
Remember that your body is an organic machine and needs to be well kept up on in order to function to its optimum level.
When the Brain goes Slosh
Water is an important thing too. We are composed mostly of water, and if we aren't getting enough throughout our day, or bodies are retaining it, which makes us feel heavier and like we're carrying a swamp somewhere inside of us. Without water our muscles will seize up, resulting in that delightful waking pain that is so fondly called a Charlie Horse.Our brains function better when we have a steady state of hydration as well, causing us to be more alert during the day.
I'm not going to lie - a good level of hydration is going to make you pee more. But it is a good thing. This will help your body to eliminate toxins building up within. Your body is a fighting machine. You might think that you are just sitting on the couch eating a bag of potato chips, but inside your body is fighting to obtain homeostasis, which is a state of balance. It is constantly sorting through nutrients of food, processing toxins we inhale, absorb through our skin, and ingest, sending it to our liver and kidneys to deal with. Water will carry these things out of the body faster, instead of allowing them to sit stewing inside of us.
Often when we are thirsty we are so used to being thirsty we don't know that we are. And when we do realize we are, most of us don't have the first instinct to go for plain tasteless water, but instead for a soda, sports drink or something - anything with flavor. These usually will cause us to think it's quenching our thirst by applying a cold liquid to our parched throats, and our body will swiftly act to pull out the H20 in these drinks, but it will never be equivalent to a glass of water.
The Check List
So the key things to think about when every day you find yourself sluggish:
Are you keeping a regular sleeping schedule?
Are you keeping active enough during the day?
Are you drinking enough water?
Are you eating right?
Along with just sleeping better, you'll find a world opening up full of healthy benefits of starting out with these simple guidelines.
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