Let's chat about the importance of sleep!
Yes, diet and exercise matter (a lot), but skimping on sleep can wreck your well-laid plans thanks to your sleep-deprived brain.
When you don’t catch enough quality sleep, your frontal lobe gets annoyed.
Not sure what that means? Just know it's the part of your brain in charge of decision-making and willpower.
In simpler terms: lack of sleep makes it tough to stick to a healthier diet, resist those calorie-packed snacks, and hit the gym.
That's why giving sleep its due is a key part of a healthy lifestyle and diet.
Aim for a solid 7 hours to start. Once you've nailed that, you can work on getting even more shut-eye.
Ever wondered why your performance in the gym decreases as your session goes on?
Well d'uh, you'll say, it's because the muscles are getting fatigued from the previous work, and you won't be wrong...but there's more to it, and with today's nugget of fitness wisdom, you may be able to do something about it!
As you move and exercise, and your muscles repeatedly contract to perform work and overcome resistance, they get hot. And it turns out, they don't like that very much. Or to put it a little more succinctly, excessively hot muscles have an impaired ability to produce force.
So, if you can manage to cool your (working) muscles' temperature down (e.g. between your lifting sets), you'll be able to produce more force (i.e. do more work) again in the next set, and in the next, and so on.
Of course you could take a cold shower or hop into a tub of cold water between sets, but that wouldn't be very practical, but actually there's an easier way.
You see, the way your body "gets rid" of excess heat is through blood circulation. The blood in your working muscles takes up some of the heat, and then disperses it to other parts of the body to cool off. Thus, if you can get your blood to cool down, you'll be able to get rid of more heat from the muscles more quickly, thereby recovering faster and working harder again in the next set!
As it turns out, the skin of the palms of your hands has certain vascular structures that make them effective at regulating the body temperature. So if you can cool down your palms (or rather, the blood that is running through the vessels in your palms), that (cooler) blood will quickly help to bring your working muscles' temperature down.
It's important to mention that it's not a case of the colder, the better. Why? Because you don't want your blood vessels to constrict, as then the nice, cool blood won't get to your working muscles.
Rather, it seems that 15-16 degrees would be the temperature at which you get the optimal performance enhancing effect.
How can you achieve this? Perhaps holding on to a bottle of cold water, or running your hands under the tap of cold water for a couple of seconds is probably the simplest and most cost effective way.
Give it a try the next time you're going for a heavy lifting session, or an interval based workout, and let me know if you feel the difference!
This post was originally written for and shared through my monthly newsletter, the Kinsei-Do Fitness Nuggets, in January 2022.
I'm sure you're familiar with the phenomenon of jetlag, and have sure experienced its annoying effects before. But did you know you don't have to leave your time zone or travel anywhere to be hit by jetlag? In fact, more likely than not, you are experiencing jetlag symptoms far more often than you think, and not only that, you're voluntarily causing your body to have them!
"Social jetlag" occurs when you sleep and wake up on a (very) different schedule on weekends compared to regular weekdays - or when you engage in shift-work - and it can really mess your body and brain up!
Let's say you typically go to bed around 10pm and wake around 6am to go to work or school, but on Friday and Saturday nights, you "live it up" and instead go to bed at 1am or 2am, and then sleep in until 10am the next morning... well, you're essentially putting your body through a four hour time zone shift (as much as if you were to travel from Indonesia to the Middle East, or from the West Coast of the US to the East Coast!).
Needless to say, this can be detrimental to your health, with sleep disorders and digestive issues some of the first problems to show up. So what can you do about that?
Ideally, you try to avoid putting your body through this shift as much as possible, by sleeping and waking on a relatively consistent schedule, regardless of whether it's a working day or a weekend.
But if that sounds utterly uncool and "what's the point of having a weekend"-ish to you, there are still things you can do to help your body deal with the adjustment better:
1) See and avoid light at the right times: expose yourself to (natural, if possible) light in the morning as soon as you can after waking up (on a Saturday and Sunday). But also avoid looking at bright lights (including screens) late in the evening, thus trying to keep your body clock to remain in its "weekday time zone".
2) Eat and exercise at the same times as you would on weekdays, so that means taking your breakfast soon after waking up on Saturday and Sunday, and not having your dinner (much) later than you would on a regular weekday.
Give it a try and you should find that Monday mornings will perhaps get a little bit easier!