Our new president is Hillary. No, wait, Obama. Definitely not Gulianni... and the arguments go on while you keep watching the elections at midnight. Or at 1:00 am? Perhaps 2:00 am? "What happened to you last night?" a colleague greets you at 6:30 am for a breakfast meeting. You look as if you were out partying last night and had ten different drinks.
Staying up late is easy to do when you are young. You used to bounce back. Remember when you went to work, came home, changed, and then went back out immediately? It was fun and we did it 3 nights in a row. Now things have changed.
Sleep is a very important component of any individual's overall well-being -- whether for an athlete who trains four to five hours per day, a CEO who manages a business, or you and me who have daily responsibilities that need to get done. We need sleep for the repair and restoration for our systems. Yet, because of the ever-increasing demands of modern society, our natural patterns have become increasingly interrupted.
How it used to be.
Our natural sleep pattern is influenced by light. The cycles of light and dark that occur because of the movement of the sun affect all living creatures. When we speak of our sleeping cycle, we refer also to our 'circadian cycle'. In the premodern times, it was natural to get up at sunrise and turn in at sundown. Yet times have changed. You work on the computer, watch TV, read late because of light capabilities. There are many opportunities to interrupt our circadian cycle.
Interruption of the circadian cycle can cause aches, pains, health issues and performance issues. Whenever light stimulates your skin or eyes, your brain and hormonal systems naturally release cortisol. This hormone is released when exposed to stress, whether the stress be physically, mentally, or nutritionally caused. As the sun rises, cortisol levels also rises. Cortisol levels peak between 6:00 am and 9:00 am, drop slightly through noon and stay lowest from 6:00 pm until 6:00 am. Low cortisol levels allow melatonin to be released from hormones helping us to fall a sleep. In a perfect world, we should start to wind down when the sun sets and by about 10:00 pm we should be in bed. Physical and psychogenic repairs occur primarily when we sleep.
Current issues to be aware off:
Computer screens, TV at night and fluorescent lights flicker on and off between 60 to 120 cycles per second. Now your brain thinks it is morning and it starts to release cortisol, the stress hormone. You are thus withholding your body from that precious sleep needed in to repair and reenergize itself, and to enable you to stay mentally alert during the day, as well as to look young and refreshed.
To get energized, coffee would be your next move. Perhaps cereal or a muffin that has simple sugar as its main ingredient, such as white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or evaporated cane juice. Rachel Ray looks all cheery on the breakfast box, but after eating all of that processed white sugar, you won't! Why? White sugar and caffeine stimulate the adrenal glands again and release the hormone cortisol. Heard this before? Cortisol takes part in how our body metabolizes fat, protein and carbohydrates. Through continuous use of these stimulants, your body does not function as well as it used to.
Weight gain, aches and pains, and low energy might be the result.
Receiving ample and proper sleep is necessary for your body to repair itself daily. An intense travel schedule, watching TV, or worrying at night can change your circadian cycle in less then 21 days. Lack of proper sleep and nutrition can cause aches and pains. When trying to solve the problem of where your aches and pains are coming from, you must look as well then, into your hours of sleep, which should last between 7 and 8 hours:
Checkpoints for rejuvenation:
1. If you can go to bed by 10:00 pm, wind down and be asleep by 10:30 pm.
2. Check your bedroom for light sources, including those as simple as the phone or alarm clock. Remove them.
3. Sleep in darkness. An eye mask might be helpful - a great tip for airplane trips as well.
4. Avoid caffeine. If you must have caffeine, have it before noon and not later.
5. Exercise to release your endorphins and to look and feel youthful. Exercise is an important component in rejuvenation and to feel great about yourself.
If you are experiencing aches and pains, you might want to try to go to bed per the recommendations above. See what happens. While there are many potential causes for aches and pains, the lack of sleep is one of the strongest possible sources. So who knew that Hillary, Barack, Mitt and John might have something to do with your weight gain, aches and pains?