How to sleep better.

Sleep hygiene:

 

Sleep is critical in the well being of all animals, such that animals deprived entirely of sleep lose immune function and die in just a matter of weeks. Further, many of the major restorative functions in the body like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or in some cases only, during sleep. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. The Institute of Medicine estimates that drowsy driving is responsible for fully 20 percent of all motor vehicle crashes. That would mean that drowsy driving causes approximately 1 million crashes, 500,000 injuries, and 8,000 deaths each year in the U.S. Lack of sleep exacts a toll on perception and judgment. In the workplace, its effects can be seen in reduced efficiency and productivity, errors, and accidents. Just one week of sleeping fewer than six hours a night resulted in changes to more than 700 genes, and even one night of sleep deprivation is linked with brain tissue loss.

 

Sleep hygiene’ is the term used to describe good sleep habits. Sleep hygiene guidelines are designed to enhance good sleeping, and provide long-term solutions to sleep difficulties, without the use of medications. Medications used to treat insomnia tend to be effective in the short-term. Ongoing use of sleeping pills may lead to dependence and interfere with developing good sleep habits, prolonging sleep difficulties. Most sleep medications simply make the patient amnestic to their poor sleep, and do not result in restful or restorative sleep. Restorative sleep is essential in hormone production, stress control, cardiometabolic health and treatment of obesity.

 

Sleep Hygiene Tips

  • Have a bedtime. One of the best ways to train your body to sleep well is to go to bed and get up at more or less the same time every day, even on weekends and days off! This regular rhythm will make you feel better and will give your body something to work from.

 

  • Sleep when sleepy. Only try to sleep when you actually feel tired or sleepy, rather than spending too much time awake in bed. Do not nap outside the sleep time.

 

  • Get up & try again. If you haven’t been able to get to sleep after about 20 minutes or more, get up and do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy, then return to bed and try again. Sit quietly on the couch with the lights off (bright light will tell your brain that it is time to wake up), or read something boring like the phone book. Avoid doing anything that is too stimulating or interesting, as this will wake you up even more. Don’t turn on the television, get on the phone or computer, or listen to the radio.

 

  • Avoid caffeine & nicotine. It is best to avoid consuming any caffeine (in coffee, tea, cola drinks, chocolate, and some medications) or nicotine (cigarettes) for at least 4-6 hours before going to bed. These substances act as stimulants and interfere with the ability to fall asleep. Do not exercise 3 hours before bedtime.

 

  • Avoid alcohol. It is also best to avoid alcohol for at least 4-6 hours before going to bed. Many people believe that alcohol is relaxing and helps them to get to sleep at first, but it actually interrupts the quality of sleep.

 

  • The bed is for sleeping. Try not to use your bed for anything other than sleeping and sex, so that your body comes to associate bed with sleep. If you use bed as a place to watch TV, eat, read, work on your laptop, pay bills, and other things, your body will not learn this connection.

 

  • No naps. It is best to avoid taking naps during the day, to make sure that you are tired at bedtime. If you can’t make it through the day without a nap, make sure it is for less than an hour and before 3pm.

 

  • Sleep rituals. You can develop your own rituals of things to remind your body that it is time to sleep – some people find it useful to do relaxing stretches or breathing exercises for 15 minutes before bed each night, or sit calmly with a cup of caffeine-free tea.

 

  • Having a hot bath 1-2 hours before bedtime can be useful, as it will raise your body temperature, causing you to feel sleepy as your body temperature drops again. Research shows that sleepiness is associated with a drop in body temperature.

 

  • No clock-watching. Many people who struggle with sleep tend to watch the clock too much. Frequently checking the clock during the night can wake you up (especially if you turn on the light to read the time) and reinforces negative thoughts such as “Oh no, look how late it is, I’ll never get to sleep” or “it’s so early, I have only slept for 5 hours, this is terrible. ”

 

  • Use a sleep diary. This worksheet can be a useful way of making sure you have the right facts about your sleep, rather than making assumptions. Because a diary involves watching the clock (see point 10) it is a good idea to only use it for two weeks to get an idea of what is going and then perhaps two months down the track to see how you are progressing. The point of the sleep diary is NOT to create a log of complaints to share.

 

  • Regular exercise is a good idea to help with good sleep, but try not to do strenuous exercise in the 3 hours before bedtime. Morning walks are a great way to start the day feeling refreshed!

 

  • Eat right. A healthy, balanced diet will help you to sleep well, but timing is important. Some people find that a very empty stomach at bedtime is distracting, so it can be useful to have a light snack, but a heavy meal soon before bed can also interrupt sleep. Some people recommend a warm glass of milk, which contains tryptophan, which acts as a natural sleep inducer.

 

  • The right space. It is very important that your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable for sleeping. A cooler room with enough blankets to stay warm is best, and make sure you have curtains or an eyemask to block out early morning light and earplugs if there is noise outside your room. Background noise or white noise improves the ambiance and will reduce wake cycles.

 

  • Keep daytime routine the same. Even if you have a bad night sleep and are tired, it is important that you try to keep your daytime activities the same as you had planned. That is, don’t avoid activities because you feel tired. This can reinforce the insomnia.

 

  • Get regular exposure to outdoor or bright lights, especially in the late afternoon.  Use blackout curtains in the bedroom to eliminate light in the bedroom during bedtime.   Turn off or cover all sources of light in the bedroom.

 

  • Don’t take another person’s sleeping pills or over-the-counter pills. Taking over-the-counter sleeping pills causes rapid development of tolerance. Diphenhydramine (an ingredient commonly found in over-the-counter sleep meds) can have serious side effects for elderly patients.

 

 

  • Designate another time to write down problems & possible solutions in the late afternoon or early evening, not close to bedtime. Do not dwell on any one thought or idea—merely jot something down and put the idea aside.

Can just a few pounds make a huge difference?

The Physicians’ Health Study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston, MA) reveals that as little as seven extra pounds combined with little or no exercise can significantly increase your risk of heart failure and sudden cardiac arrest.

  • Regardless of the level of activity, higher body mass index equates to higher heart failure risk.
  • Even modestly overweight men had increased heart risk—a risk that increased with excess pounds.
  • Every 7 pounds of excess weight equated to a 11% increased heart risk in the 20 year study—1 kg/m2 increase in BMI, men over 5’10” tall in a multivariate analysis.
  • Overweight study participants had a 49% heart failure increase.
  • Obese study participants had a 180% heart failure increase.
  • 18% reduction in heart failure risk in active men—with one to three times per month of physical activity.
  • 36% reduction in heart failure in higher activity men—those with five to seven times per week of physical activity.

A higher BMI increased heart failure risk in both active and inactive men, the “beneficial effect of vigorous physical activity in reducing the risk of heart failure was observed in lean, overweight and also obese men.”  The American Heart Association says: Healthy adults ages 18-65 should get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five days per week.

  • Couch potatoes—physically inactive people—are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.
  • Two-thirds of Americans have excess body weight—and about only 30% exercise regularly.
  • 660,000 new cases of heart failure are diagnosed each year in the U.S.
  • 80% of men and 75% of women aged 65 and older diagnosed with heart failure die within eight years.
  • Too much belly fat ups risk for other health problems: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
  • Women with excess body fat are at higher risk of heart disease — even if they don’t have other risk factors.

Even just walking 30 minutes a day can . . .

  • Reduce coronary heart disease risk
  • Reduce the risk on non-insulin dependant [Type 2] diabetes
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improve blood lipid profile
  • Maintain body weight and reduce your risk of obesity
  • Enhance mental well-being
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer

Even a minimum duration of 10 min, high intensity exercise at an anaerobic or lactate threshold production level increases circulating  Growth Hormone in adults.  Increasing Growth Hormone results in enhanced production of Thyroid Hormone and Testosterone, with improved vessel elasticity.  The risk of death was reduced by 50% with an improved exercise capacity attained of just  30 minutes per session, 5-6 days per week.   And even if  30 minutes was too much , splitting the routine into 10-15 minute segments (morning/evening) gives the same benefit.

Even reducing your weight just a few pounds or exercising even ten minutes a day can have a huge impact.  For more information regarding high intensity exercise check out the article on “Exercise as if your life depended upon it!

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The BMI controversy?

As your Body Mass Index [BMI] increases, so does your risk of death.  But is BMI the best tool to determine your health status?

Calculated from your weight and height, BMI provides a general gauge of body fatness.   BMI is a correlation between an individual’s height and weight, but it does not distinguish between fat weight and muscle weight.

Figure your Body Mass Index using either your bioempedence scale, your body fat calipers or the following simple formula:

BMI=Weight in pounds x 703, divided by height in inches x height in inches

 

Or

BMI=[Weight x 703]/height2

For Example:

Weight in pounds = 150

Height in inches = 64

150 x 703 =  105,450

64 x 64 = 4096

105,450/4096 = 25.74

BMI = 25.74%

Your BMI number can fall into one of four adult categories:

Below 18.5 = Underweight

18.5 – 24.9+ = Normal

25.0 – 29.9 = Overweight

30.0 and above = Obese

As your BMI increases, so does your risk of death from many possible causes, such as ischemic heart disease, stroke and various types of cancers.  Based upon a study published in the online March 2009 Lancet, a collaborative analysis of 57 studies found that BMI is a “reasonably good measure” of general adiposity – body fat.

Researchers reported the lowest mortality was in those with a BMI of 22.5 to 25 kg/m2. As BMI slightly increases, the mortality rate begins to skyrocket.  each 5 kg/m2 higher BMI was associated with about 30% higher all-cause mortality (40% for vascular; 60–120% for diabetic, renal, and hepatic; 10% for neoplastic; and 20% for respiratory and for all other mortality). In other words, as BMI increased overall death rate increased.

Having an above normal range BMI can result in these health conditions:

  • Hypertension
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Type-2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Stroke
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Various cancers

People frequently state that muscle weighs more than fat.  Its simply not true, a pound of muscle weighs exactly the same as a pound of fat.  It just so happens that fat occupies nearly 18% more volume for the same pound weight, and muscle tends to adhere to tightly to skeletal structures, whereas fat drapes loosly.  Because BMI fails to distinguish between fat and muscle, because it is weight based, a better way of looking at this was needed, hence a calculation of actual percentage fat by bioimpedance scale or skin calipers or more scientifically with DEXA scan.

Danger also lurks behind that expanding waistline: highly active, toxic abdominal fat  heightens your disease risk. Check your waist girth with a tape measure, starting at the top of the hipbone. Measure at your greatest waist area, keeping the tape measure even, not pulling too tightly. A total of over 40 inches for men or over 35 inches for women means it’s high time to get serious about taking control of your health and future.  The abdominal girth or waist measurement is a quick tool in determining your cardiac risk, it looks more at the volume of fat in the abdomen rather than the weight.

The waist to hip ratio is an important tool that helps you determine your overall health risk. People with more weight around their waist are at greater risk of lifestyle related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes than those with weight around their hips. It is a simple and useful measure of fat distribution.

Use a measuring tape to check the waist and hip measurements.
- Measure your hip circumference at it’s widest part.
- Measure your Waist Circumference at the belly button or just above it.

Simply take your waist measurement / your hip measurement; for example:

Waist to hip ratio:

Waist circumference / hip circumference

Waist: 32

Hip: 30

Ratio: 32/30 = 1.07

 

MALE                          FEMALE:                     Health risk based on ratio only

.95 or below               .80 or below               Low Risk

.96 – 1.0                     .81-.85                        Moderate Risk

1.0 +                           .85 +                           High Risk

Perhaps exercise tolerance and maximal exercise capacity by measuring METs  may be the best indicator of body health and longevity, a functional test  of exercise capacity rather than a weight test or a size test.

If you are truly interested in losing abdominal fat, check out our mdHCG protocol for a guaranteed solution.

Exercise as if your life depended upon it! It really does.

Exercise as if your life depends upon it, it really does.  Men who achieved >7 METs (highly to very highly fit) level demonstrated a 50%-70% lower mortality risk than “low fit” subjects.

In a study published in the Journal Circulation, researchers assessed “the association between exercise capacity and mortality” in over 14,000 men—subjects whose average age was 60, who did or didn’t have cardiovascular disease and who successfully completed a treadmill test.  Men who achieved >7 METs (highly to very highly fit) level demonstrated a 50%-70% lower mortality risk than “low fit” subjects.

The highest-intensity aspect of exercise, the hardest part. is the 15 seconds of sprinting at the end of a long run, or the most difficult 10 seconds of pumping during a peak level on an exercise bike, or the last few repetitions when exercising muscles to failure.   One “metabolic equivalent” [MET] is the amount of oxygen used by an average person at rest  and increases proportionally with the intensity of exercise.

A MET is used as a practical means of expressing the intensity and energy expenditure of physical activities in a way comparable among persons of different weight; but actual energy expenditure (e.g., in calories or joules) during a physical activity depends on the person’s body mass, therefore the energy cost of the same physical activity will be different for persons of different weight.  In other words, METs as defined by most exercise equipment cannot be used to determine metabolic rate directly.  Never the less, a physical activity with a MET value of 2, such as walking at a slow pace (e.g., 3 km/h) would require for a specific person twice the energy that person consumes at rest (e.g., sitting quietly), a MET value of 1.

In this study, fitness categories based on METs achieved are were:

  • low                              [5 METs]
  • moderate                   [5-7 METs]
  • highly                         [7.1 to 10METs]
  • very highly fit            [over 10 METs]

Subjects exercised until tired; with follow-ups done for 7.5 years on average.  Men who achieved >7 METs (highly to very highly fit)—demonstrated a 50%-70% lower mortality risk than “low fit” subjects.  The chances of staying alive increased by 12 to 13 percent with each increase of a single metabolic equivalent [MET] when exercising as hard as possible on a treadmill.  Peak MET achieved is a better predictor of how long someone will live than other factors – including health risk factors like high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, and even heart disease.

The risk of death was reduced by 50% with an improved exercise capacity attained of just  30 minutes per session, 5-6 days per week.   And even if  30 minutes was too much , splitting the routine into 10-15 minute segments (morning/evening) gives the same benefit. Additionally, even moderate intensity exercise, greater then 7 METs offers significant health benefits.

  • Increased health span: A study following Harvard grads for 30 years showed those moderately active were at substantially decreased risk of death.
  • Decreased health risks: Strengthening the heart muscle for good circulation, decreased blood pressure and reduced stroke risk.
  • Reduced stress and significantly improved mood: With a moderate intensity workout of 20 minutes or more.
  • Increased muscle endurance: Making daily activities easier.
  • Improved sleep quality: Researchers at Stanford, Emory and the University of Oklahoma reported older people doing brisk walking and/or low-impact aerobics four times a week went to sleep faster and slept an hour longer than before (Harvard Health Letter, March 1997).

Many of these benefits accrue due to the improved endocrine profile; with resultant elevated Thyroid Hormone, Testosterone, and Growth Hormone.  Insulin sensitivity also seems to be enhanced with improved glucose control, resulting in less fat deposition, increased fat mobilization as usable energy, and reduced total Insulin levels and elevated Glucagon levels.

The key element in obtaining health benefits is the high intensity nature of the exercise, and the relatively short duration of the exercise.  MET capacity is even more important than the traditionally measured BMI or waist hip ratio.

If you are truly interested in losing abdominal fat, check out our mdHCG protocol for a guaranteed solution.

What’s so wrong with a fat belly?

There are three types of fat commonly seen observed in the abdomen

  1. Subcutaneous Fat, which is fat immediately below the skin but outside the abdominal cavity.
  2. Retroperitoneal or Structural Fat separating organ and providing cushioning during movement.
  3. Visceral abdominal fat (found inside the abdominal cavity). Most of that fat is found on the greater omentum—a large apron-like sheet that drapes over all the organs. Some people are prone to storing their body fat in their abdomen as part of this greater omentum. As a result, large, globule clumps of fat attach to the omentum, where they release toxic materials into the venous drainage and onto the bloodstream, ultimately causing adverse effects. This kind of fat releases adipokines, harmful chemicals that can cause Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and increased risk of cancer.

Reports have demonstrated that being overweight or obese (particular with a centralized distribution of adiposity) puts you in a higher-risk category for chronic conditions, from insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, gallstones, gout, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and a liver disease called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

It is interesting to note that the middle-age bulge increase your chances of having

Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia in your senior years by nearly three times, even though it’s not your brain that stores the fat.  This may be related to:

  1. Toxic metabolites produced by the visceral abdominal fat, such as xenoestrogens which suppress testosterone formation, leading to poor blood vessel elasticity and high blood pressure
  2. Storage of fat soluble toxins, such as food borne pesticides and herbicides, acquired from the environment which then slowly leach out.
  3. Toxic belly fat is thought to promote amyloid accumulation by increasing chronic inflammation. Amyloid is an abnormal protein, which deposits in the body’s tissues or in more organ-specific areas, such as in the pancreas (type 2 diabetes) or central nervous system (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington disease).

Visceral abdominal fat (belly fat) is the last reservoir people get rid of when they’re losing body fat—and it’s the first place they store it when they gain back body fat.

To date, there are no ways to specifically target that fat, but there are things you can do to work your way down to healthier body fat levels (16% for men, under 22% for women).

A low-glycemic nutrition eating plan with specific nutritional supplementation can help you optimize your health potential and reduce belly fat. Consistent high intensity interval exercise can increase metabolic rates, lower heart disease risk and improve body composition, muscle endurance, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, core strength/stability and posture.  These effects are not purely related to the energy burned due to exercise, but also due to the significant endocrine [hormonal changes] induced by resistance exercise leading to increased Growth Hormone, Thyroid Hormone, and Testosterone production.

More specifically, resistance training helps you lose abdominal fat and overall body fat while lowering cholesterol: Weight training is the best way to burn fat; it’s more effective for losing weight than aerobic activity because it burns calories while you’re exercising and later at rest due to the hormonal changes and muscular regeneration.

If you are truly interested in losing abdominal fat, check out our mdHCG protocol for a guaranteed solution.