Diet And Fitness Tips To Help You Sleep

Diet And Fitness Tips To Help You Sleep

Ah, sleep. While some slip between the sheets and easily fall into a sound slumber, many of us fail to get enough of those coveted zzz’s. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30 percent of American workers–about 40.6 million of us–average no more than six hours of sleep a day. The recommended amount of sleep is about seven to nine hours per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation, which says that any less than that is linked to increased risk of diabetes, heart problems, depression, and substance abuse. Lack of sleep can also increase appetite and the risk for future weight gain or obesity.

In fact, the findings of two small, unpublished studies presented at a recent meeting of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggest that sleep deprivation could affect diet by increasing a preference for less healthy food and by dampening decision-making ability–especially in the face of fatty, caloric options.

Despite these serious consequences[1] , why do so many Americans skimp on sleep? Many of us stay up (or out) late to socialize with friends, watch ball games, or catch up on favorite TV shows. But we also sleep less to meet important work deadlines or family obligations such as caring for our family members. (Incidentally, on the morning I had planned to submit this article, our 10-year-old climbed into our bed at 4 a.m. after a bad dream; since I couldn’t fall back asleep, I used that “bonus time” to edit this blog post and catch up on other work!)

Before you shell out a portion of the billions of dollars Americans are expected to spend this year on pills, drinks, or medical devices that promise slumber, consider a few do-it-yourself remedies. Along with prioritizing your sleep[2] and keeping your bedroom cool and distraction-free, make time to eat well and stay active, both key to helping you get the sleep you need. Toward that end, here are some of my “Stressipes”–food, fitness, and lifestyle strategies–to help you get back on track. If your problems persist, see your physician or a health professional.

Be active. Exercise not only keeps your muscles, bones, and heart strong[3], but it may help you sleep. A recent article published in the Journal of Physiotherapy concluded that participating in an exercise training program had moderately positive effects on sleep quality in middle-aged and older adults. Althea Zanecosky, a fellow dietician of Lafayette Hill, Penn., credits her good sleep to frequent morning and after-dinner walks. Robin Plotkin, another dietician from Dallas, Tex., agrees that exercise is key to her sleeping success. “If I don’t exercise for several days, I find it takes me longer to fall asleep,” she says. Because the post-exercise body needs a few hours to cool down–and a cool body sleeps better–it’s best to be active earlier in the day.

Say yes to carbs. A steady dose of carbohydrate-rich foods can energize you by day[4], and hit your sweet spot by night. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in eggs, chickpeas, and turkey creates serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps you settle down. It’s the carbohydrate, however, that carries tryptophan to the brain to work its magic. Aim for half of your daily calories to come from carbohydrates, and choose mainly oatmeal and other whole grains, fruits, vegetables (including potatoes), legumes, and low-fat dairy foods. (Keep dinners and bedtime snacks small, since large, late meals can adversely affect sleep.)

Be careful with caffeineFat Loss. A stimulant of the central nervous system, caffeine is known to delay sleepiness and cause sleep disturbances. It also inhibits some sleep-promoting hormones. Because caffeine stays in the body for several hours, it’s wise to abstain at least several hours before you hit the sack.

Nix the nightcap. Alcohol seems to encourage excess food intake. And while it may also help you fall asleep, studies suggest it promotes a restless sleep and increases daytime fatigue. Current dietary guidelines allow for one drink a day for women, and two for men (one drink equals 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits). But if it’s a good sleep you’re after, drink earlier in the day (that is, if your boss lets you!) or rethink that drink[5] altogether.

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and president of Zied Health Communications, LLC, based in New York City. She’s an award-winning registered dietitian and author of three books including Nutrition At Your Fingertips. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and New York University, Zied inspires others to make more healthful food choices and find enjoyable ways to “move it or lose it” through writing, public speaking, and media appearances. You can connect with her on twitter (@elisazied) and through her new Stressipes forum on her website: www.elisazied.com[6].

References

  1. ^ serious consequences (health.usnews.com)
  2. ^ prioritizing your sleep (health.usnews.com)
  3. ^ Exercise not only keeps your muscles, bones, and heart strong (health.usnews.com)
  4. ^ carbohydrate-rich foods can energize you by day (health.usnews.com)
  5. ^ rethink that drink (health.usnews.com)
  6. ^ www.elisazied.com (elisazied.com)

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12 Responses to “Diet And Fitness Tips To Help You Sleep”

  1. Fitness Tips? My fiance and i are getting married in August and although we are both very healthy and look after ourselves, we both want to look our best for the wedding. we usually go cycling but the weather is really awful at the moment and the local gym is rubbish. does anyone have any excersize tips that we can do at home? aside from the obvious of course *wink*

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    • HealthNut Reply

      Here is an at-home routine that you can do for a total body and great cardio workout. Hope you like it.

      RUN IN PLACE – kick heels up to buttocks

      SQUATS

      JUMPING JACKS

      BACK LEG LIFTS – keeping the hips forward lift your left leg back – it’s a small movement so don’t arch your back to lift very high – do one side for half the amount of time and then switch

      HEEL DIGS – press heel out in front of you and hop to switch feet

      SIDE LEG RAISES – standing lift your left leg out to the side and lead with the heel (don’t turn your toe up) and also don’t lean over sideways as you do this – half the time and then switch sides

      BURPEES – standing place hands on floor and jump feet back into pushup position and then jump feet back towards hands and stand up (that completes one burpee)

      PLIE SQUAT – stand with your feet wider than should length apart and your toes turned out at a 45 degree angle, squat down and using your inner thighs press yourself back up

      SPEED SKATER – leap to the right bring left leg slightly behind you and you reach towards the floor and then leap to the left bringing right leg slightly behind while reach towards the floor

      PUSHUPS – can do against a wall or on the floor on your toes or knees

      CROSS COUNTRY SKI – stand with legs together and jump up landing with right leg in front and left leg back then jump again switching feet in the air

      BICEP CURLS – curl with weights (or whatever else you can use such as soup cans, water bottles, resistance bands) be sure not to lock out the elbow and curl for the full range of motion

      DOWNHILL SKI – feet together jump to right and then the left and stay low in a little bit of a squat position

      TRICEP PUSHUP – lay on your left side with your left hand on your right side and place your right hand on the floor infront of you, now press yourself up with your right hand – half the time and then switch sides

      HIGH KNEES – run in place brining knees into the chest as much as you can

      BACK ROW – using weights hinge forward at the hips so you are slightly bent over and knees slightly bent, let the weights hang down with palms facing each other than pull the elbows up keeping them close to the body and bring the weights up as high as you can and then lower

      SQUAT THRUST – kinda like a burpee but when you come up jump

      SHOULDER RAISE – with weights stand with elbows out at shoulder height then press weights up over head and lower to shoulder height (don’t go below shoulder height)

      POWER JACKS – like a jumping jack but when your feet go wide go down into a squat and when jumping back with feet together do two hops

      LOWER ABS – laying stomach place your hands infront of you forming a triangle, lift your hips up so you are on your toes and elbows (don’t lift your hips too high though – you should be in a straight line and abs pulled up in towards your spine) alternate touching your knees to the floor, but don’t let them rest – they should just barley touch

      JUMP ROPE – real or pretend

      OBLIQUES – on your back with feet on the floor and hands behind the head crunch up and twist left elbow to right knee – half the amount of time and then switch sides

      SQUAT JUMPS – in a squat position jump up and land in squat position

      UPPER ABS – on your back with feet planted on floor lift your hips up and have hands behind head – keeping your hips up off the floor do a crunch

      QUICK FEET – standing with feet wide run in place as fast as you can (think football)

      FRONT LUNGES – lunge forward with the left foot, staying in this position lower yourself and then press back up – half the amount of time and then switch sides

      SQUAT W/ FRONT KICK – feet close together squat and come up and kick with the left then squat again and come up and kick the right and keep alternating

      STEP TOUCH – stay low with knees bent and step to the left bringing feet together and then step to the right, while doing so have your arms extending out to the sides with each step

      SHUFFLE W/ KNEE – shuffle three times to the left and on the third one lift your right knee and then shuffle three times to the right lifting your left knee on the third one

      MARCH – march in place to cool down

      do each move one after the other without a rest in-between and you’ll get an excellent interval workout – If you want a longer workout walk in place 3-5 minutes and then do the whole circuit again.

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  2. Fitness Tips…? Well, Im 16 and weigh 306 pounds at about six feet in height. I just started Varsity Football for my school. Well, my coach told me that he will prefer me at a weight of 280 by about July. I just wanted any and all tips that someone can think of that will hep me with my goal and increase my football skills. Hopefullly, improving my speed, explosion, agility, strength, etc,. Is this goal attainable and what do you reccomend I do?

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    • HealthNut Reply

      Hi,

      I’ve tried so many different diets in the last 10 years that I can say now, they don’t work!
      A few months ago, I came across a great product for weight loss (it’s actually a colon cleanse) and like many others I was skeptical about it. But I really wanted to lose weight and I tried it (it’s 100% natural). The results were excellent. I lost about 20 pounds in 2 months with this detox. That’s why I recommend you check this product at http://www.thin-quick.us where they have a free trial and you only pay $4.95 shipping and handling.
      Good luck!

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  3. Does Anyone Know Any Fitness Tips That Work? Short fitness tips that really work would be very helpful, thanks.

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  4. Fitness Tips To Prepare To Join The Army? I want to join the army, and I would like some fitness tips so I can whip my butt into shape. I’m almost 16 right now, and I’m not really in shape. Any advice from people who have any kind of military experience would be great, or if you just know some tips. Thanks!

    View Comment
    • HealthNut Reply

      Hey man,

      You will need to build mental toughness more than anything, but you will learn that once you join.

      you should start out by doing 200-300 push-ups, 200-300 sit-ups, and 50-100 pull-ups everyday. It does not have to be all at once.

      You will need to get your general fitness levels up. The best way to do that is by doing this

      Jumping jacks-30 seconds
      shuffle splits- 30 seconds
      mountain climbers- 30 seconds
      burpess 30 seconds.

      repeat that 3-4 times. Before joining the army you should be doing that for 30 minutes a day.

      That should help you get started. If you have anymore questions, please ask.

      Good luck.

      Danny lupiani

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  5. Fitness Tips? I just turned 14, and weight around 90 punds. I have no muscle at all, basically. How should I get more fit? I bike ride alot during the Summer.

    And does anyone know hoew to get taller faster? I get made fun of because I am,like, 5′ 2″ tall.

    Im a vegetarian.

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    • HealthNut Reply

      Do you know about protiens, carbs, and fats, metabolism, etc.?
      when you say you’re a vegatarian, you’re basically saying you dont know much about nutrition.
      go to fitday.com and learn more about food before you cut out an entire food group. start eating meat and strength train and within the next year or so (when puberty hormones kick in) you will be as muscular as you want!
      -Jamie ?

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  6. I Want To Lose A Few Kilos But Not A Heap, Dieting And Fitness Tips..? I weigh 58 kilos, and I don’t really want to lose too much weight, maybe 5 or 6 kilos, but I mostly just want to tone up. Do you know any dieting/fitness tips? I’m going to the gym 5 times a week, and on the days I’m not there I’m going for a run. Any tips on what to spend my time on at the gym? Thank you x

    View Comment
    • HealthNut Reply

      Dear Isy,

      One thing you need to understand is that you have to work hard if you want to change the shape of your body. That means a balance of medium-high intensity cardio exercise along with challenging strength training workouts.

      For weight loss, you’ll need to get about 5 cardio workouts each week at a medium-high intensity for at least 30 minutes. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to start slow and work your way up but, if you’re in good condition and have no restrictions, challenging yourself with harder workouts is the best way to burn more calories. Interval training is a good choice because studies show you continue to burn calories even after you’ve stopped exercising.

      In addition to your cardio workouts, you’ll need to lift weights for all your muscle groups at least 2 non-consecutive days a week. And, by lifting weights, that means using enough weight that you can ONLY complete the desired number of reps. For example, if you’re doing 12 bicep curls, you need to use enough weight that you can only do 12 bicep curls and not one more. Most people don’t lift enough weight to really challenge their muscles.

      What you need to engage in is a well balanced all rounded diet with considerable physical exertion over a prolonged time period. Food can be broken down into 5 major groups. These groups are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals and water. The body needs varying amounts of these types of food so that the adequate amount of nutrients is supplied to the body. A well-balanced diet does not mean an equal amount of each type of food, as our body requires more of some nutrients than others.

      Each type of food plays a significant role in our body but excesses or deficiencies of certain types of food can also harm the body and produce a negative impact on our health.

      It is very important that we know how much of each type of food we are supposed to consume and that we eat in a sensible way. This means eating regular meals at “least” three times a day and drinking plenty of water, but what I would suggest is breaking it down to 5 smaller meals a day and having your last solid meal before 6pm after that you are only allowed to have pure low fat milk a mug or two would be a good idea to cut down on excessive cravings.

      Hope this answers your question.

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