Think Sleep is Important? Think Again!

Think Sleep is Important? Think Again!

We all know sleep is important, but you may not know the half of it! Disordered sleep has an incredible negative impact on all sorts of facets of your health!

Why Is Sleep Important?

A good night’s sleep is essential for our overall well being. In fact, it’s as important as healthy nutrition and regular exercising.

However, our to-do list is becoming longer and longer each day, and sometimes 24 hours just isn’t enough to take care of all our responsibilities! Because of this, we sometimes neglect the importance of sleep, and the question is: how long our body can put up with this new and fast way of life?

Facts About Sleep You Didn’t Know

Did you know that between 50 and 70 million people in the United States have chronic sleep disorders and that the number hits more than 2 billion people worldwide? People suffer from a variety of sleep issues that are either connected to the lack of sleep or some health problems.

More than 35% of the people in the US get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night, and about 45% of them reported that inadequate sleep affected their daytime activities.

1. You Can Gain Weight Because of the Poor Sleep

Poor sleep is strongly linked with gaining weight. Sleep deprivation causes changes in hormones that regulate hunger and appetite. In fact, sleep deprivation is one of the greatest risk factors for obesity.

Children who don’t get enough sleep at night are 89% more likely to be obese, and adults are 55% more likely. Furthermore, less sleep lowers your energy and motivation for exercising, which also leads to unwanted weight.

To stay fit and healthy, it’s crucial to get enough sleep at night (between 7 and 9 hours).

2. Good Sleep Can Improve Concentration and Productivity

Sleep has a huge impact on brain functions. These include cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance.

A study conducted on medical interns showed that interns who had an extended schedule of more than 24 hours made 36% more serious medical errors than interns who had more time to sleep. Another study showed that sleep deprivation could have the same impact on the brain as alcohol intoxication.

On the other hand, enough good-quality sleep can improve problem-solving skills and memory performance in both children and adults.

3. Sleep Improves Your Immune System

Even a small loss of sleep could decrease the strength of our immune system. A two-week-long study showed that people who slept for less than seven hours per night were almost three times more likely to get a cold than people who got eight or more hours of sleep.

The study was done after 14 days when people were given nasal drops of a cold virus. If you often get colds and you’re tired of it, getting more than eight hours of sleep at night could be very helpful.

4. Sleep Has a Huge Effect on Emotions and Social Interactions

Less sleep decreases the motivation for social interactions. One study showed that people who didn’t get enough sleep were less able to recognize facial expressions, happiness, and anger in other people. Researchers believe that sleep deprivation affects our ability to recognize important social signs and process emotional information.

The Bottom Line

Getting enough sleep is very important. It’s not only important for our social interactions, but also for our health. Try getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night and see how your life gets better!

Want more? Check out this infographic here: Sleep Stats and Facts

THE Core Exercise You Should Be Doing Every Day!

The Plank is a simple, but very effective and EFFICIENT core exercise that helps you build stability and strength throughout your entire body. The primary muscles involved are the erector spinae (muscles around the spine that straighten and rotate the back), rectus abdominis (the “6-pack” muscles), and transverse abdominis (a deep core muscle that stabilizes the low back and core).

The Origin

Some credit Joseph Pilates for the concept of the plank exercise, dating back to the 1920’s! Like standard planks, side planks recruit the transversus abdominis muscles, but also the glutes, obliques, and adductors as the primary muscles.

Why Should You Do It?

In today’s world we are in spinal flexion so often, hunching over our phone or computer – therefore doing loads of “crunches” is unnecessary. Instead utilizing planks encourages stacking the spine, improved posture and can greatly reduce the incidence of back pain.

The plank is a popular exercise in yoga, boxing, and sports because it not only increases strength and stability in the whole body, but it also trains balance and flexibility.

On The Go? No Problem!

Planks are perfect for that workout you need to complete at home or while traveling. No equipment is necessary, and it can be done anywhere! Your job is to make a plank hard to be the most effective. Before increasing your time in a plank make sure to master the form, only then increasing INTENSITY to make sure it’s the safest and most effective plank.

Tips For Improving Your Plank

1. In the pushup position, push up through the shoulders (shoulder protraction) to create stability so the upper back feels rounded arm to arm.

2. Set your wrists under the shoulders (in a low plank our elbows are under the shoulders) and stay there! As we fatigue, we tend to push away from the hands causing unnecessary strain on our shoulders, neck and wrists.

3. To keep your head aligned with your spine, pretend you are giving yourself a double-chin or you are up against a wall and pulling your head back against it.

4. When we train deadlifts, you may have seen a coach place a dowel or pole on a member’s back to have them connect their head, shoulders and tailbone to it while hinging. The same three connections should be seen in a plank.

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER!

Wrists under shoulders, actively drive your hands into the ground, double-chin, push up through the shoulders, squeeze your quads/front of your legs, squeeze/engage your glutes, and build tension in the legs by drawing the legs towards each other.

One final tension boost? Make it a STRICT PLANK by drawing your elbows/hands back as if you are on a rug and pulling it toward you.

5 Reasons to Get Fit THIS FALL!

Let’s be honest, there’s always a million and one reasons to get in shape, but this week we’ve got 5 major reasons to get fit THIS Fall!

1. Fighting the Winter Flu

Are you one to catch that winter cold? Is this then your excuse to not stay active when it gets cold? Exercising in cooler temperatures helps strengthen your immune system and decreases your chances of getting a cold during the wintertime. The cells in your immune system will love you for that and better fight off all bacteria!

2. Beauty of Autumn

Even though temperatures are dropping, it is also such a beautiful time of the year! Don’t waste these days sitting around and doing nothing. Enjoy that beautiful autumn weather by going for a walk or run. Maybe even take up snowshoeing or cross-country skiing!

3. Resist Fall Comfort Food

Turkey, pumpkin pie, hot chocolate…there are many unhealthy temptations during this time of year. However, if you stay active this season, your body will start to naturally crave healthier foods. Resist excuses. Resist temptations. Await results!

4. Make Use of an Empty Schedule

Did you have a busy summer and no time to work out? Then this is one less excuse you can use. Make the most of your time by eating healthy and exercising regularly. Invest time on your fitness now, and avoid Spring/Summer regret!

5. Get a Head Start on your New Year’s Resolutions

Studies show it takes about 4 weeks for the body to adapt to new lifestyle changes. If you start your workout routine now, you’ll not only be one step ahead of your New Year’s resolutions but also more likely to meet them.

Have a Fit Fall by building your immune system, health, and nutrition by being consistent in your workouts and sleep schedule, getting outdoors, using the extra “indoor” time to cook/prep, and ultimately setting yourself up for a strong start in the new year!

Let’s Get to Know Erythritol: A Low Calorie Sweetener

We’ve talked about sugar and artificial sweeteners. But you might wonder, where do sugar-alcohols like Erythritol (ur-i-thruh-taal) fit in? It does occur naturally in some foods, but most of what you see is manufactured by fermenting wheat or cornstarch. Erythritol often is found with other sugar substitutes like stevia. Other sugar alcohols include xylitol, glycerin, sorbitol, etc.

Zero Calorie?

Erythritol is pretty much zero calorie sweetener at .2 calories per gram (table sugar is 4 calories per gram). This is because your body can not break it down; it doesn’t get metabolized and is excreted through urine within 24 hours. This also makes it a good option for diabetics. Erythritol has been approved by the World Health Organization since 1999.

Even though it is called a “sugar alcohol” it generally comes in a powder or granular form, and as you can see above it can look very much like table sugar!

But Is It Any Good?

Erythritol has 60-80% the sweetness of table sugar. It comes as a powder or granular form. It does not have a bitter aftertaste like some sweeteners and people can generally tolerate erythritol better than other sugar alcohols. You’ll find erythritol in many sugar free foods and snacks like Crystal Light Pure, sugar free candy, protein bars, gum, sugar free fruit spreads, Smart Cakes and muffins, Vitamin Water Zero, etc. It is also found in the brand Truvia sweetener.

Even Dentists Like It!

Dentists like erythritol because not only does it not cause tooth decay like sugar, it helps prevent it and reduce the formation of plaque. Sugar, on the other hand, turns into acid in your mouth when combined with mouth bacteria.

Is It Natural?

As we said before Erythritol can be manufactured by fermenting wheat or cornstarch, but it can also be found naturally in carrots, cherries, mushrooms, and more. Japan has been using erythritol since the early 1990s as a natural sugar substitute. Still, in the end, erythritol might be a good sugar substitute for you, but whole foods should still be the bulk of your diet.

Possible Side Effects

Like most sugar alcohols when used in large amounts, erythritol can cause diarrhea, gas/bloating, and/or an upset stomach. If you choose to use erythritol, as with most things, do so in moderation. At the same time, most people can handle a gram for every kilo of body weight (or .45g per pound). That means at 150 pounds someone could presumably consume more than 13 teaspoons without ill effect. However, if you suffer from IBS, it’s probably better to stay away from sugar alcohols.

Hormones? Who Cares? They Only Control EVERYTHING About Your Body

The Endocrine System is made up of glands that produce and secrete hormones to regulate our cells, tissues, and organs. This system therefore regulates our metabolism, sleep, mood, and so much more.!

For example, if you eat your favorite sugary dessert, your blood glucose increases, so your pancreas starts pumping out insulin to try to bring your body back to its happy place. If your blood sugar gets too low, other hormones will kick in to bring it back to homeostasis…the perfect balance.

The Pancreas

The Pancreas is the largest gland of the endocrine system. It produces insulin that helps you use energy from the food you eat by transporting it to the muscles and tissue that use glucose for energy.

Too much insulin in our blood reduces its ability to regulate our system, which can cause obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity and reduces the reliance on insulin injections!

Adrenal Glands

An adrenal gland is located on the top of each kidney. It is responsible for releasing cortisol (and adrenaline) into our bloodstream, and it turns stored carbohydrates into energy.

Cortisol can help control blood pressure, blood sugar levels, metabolism, and help reduce inflammation. However, there is such thing as “Too Much of a Good Thing”. If you find when you are losing weight that you are losing muscle, try adding a small amount of carbohydrate before and/or during exercise. This will inhibit cortisol from being released and thus reduce the breakdown of muscle!

Thyroid Gland

When you start exercising, the thyroid gland (at the base of the neck) sends out hormones that regulate the body’s temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. It also regulates the alertness and focus that are needed to work at a high intensity.

The thyroid regulates how fast your body uses the calories from the food you eat…which is why you have likely heard of hypothyroidism (where it doesn’t produce enough of the hormone).

Pituitary Gland

The Pituitary gland is the “master gland”, at the base of the brain which regulates all the other glands we have talked about so far. When we exercise, the Pituitary gland releases a hormone to signal the body to increase bone, muscle and tissue production. Feed your gland…let’s work out!

You can learn even more in this great article by ACE Fitness!

Important: Hormone Disruptors

The endocrine system is very structured in its process, unless endocrine disruptors (i.e BPA, fire retardants, etc) are in play. They may cause a response to be too high, too low, or all together different than was intended and not in a good way. Hormone disruptors have been known to cause obesity, bring on early puberty, alter the function of sex hormones and mess with our immune systems. Sadly, they can be found in our food, water, pesticides, cosmetics, and so much more. Help your body get rid of these toxins through SWEAT!

Here’s a great article from Precision Nutrition – all about hormone disruptors!