Tuesday, July 6, 2010

it's naptime, y'all.

Hamlet talked about it, babies do a lot of it (but not enough at the right times), and all of us adults dream of doing it more often.  sometimes, it's better than cookies.

(and only sometimes!)

i'm talking about sleep. the restorative need we all have and the one we can't live without.

(my case in point: the episode of star trek: the next generation when they stopped sleeping and there were THREATS and CRAZY and ALMOSTMURDER.  that's evidence right there, folks.)

we all know that sleep is important.  anyone who has had a bad night and then a big day can tell you that they weren't their best that morning. their poor spouses can probably testify to that fact as well. 

but did you know that sleep is crucial to weight loss?

i'm sure you've all heard this before, but studies have shown that when we sleep well, our efforts at changing our bodies are more successful. it makes sense.  as a machine, your body needs downtime, especially when you're pushing it further than ever.  working out more or changing up your routine? you'll likely need to get more sleep.

flip this on its head, though.  imagine you're working hard, watching your calories, and doing well. you're seeing the weight slowly come off. something's obviously working. then, suddenly, you see the scale's number jump up higher.  you are probably thinking that you've done something wrong. you begin to calculate what you've eaten, berate yourself for all of the slip-ups, and maybe even begin to slip into the dark abyss of "no matter what i do, it doesn't matter."

before you buy property in that abyss of frustration, think about how well you've been sleeping.

this happened to me last week. four pounds worth of calories? all of my work over the past two weeks gone over a few slip-ups? 

perhaps.

but then i realized--i had been suffering from mega sleep issues all week.  i was sleeping probably between 4 to 6 hours a night when i am accustomed to a good 8.  they were a bad 4 to 6 too, fitful and out of the norm.

i am a person who really needs 8 hours. i don't always get it, but i'm at my best when i consistently get close to that.  what happens when i get less? it builds up, and that sleep deprivation will cause me to gain weight. 

i've seen it happen before--struggling and struggling with my weight and my workouts and the plateaus continue no matter what i do. then, i started resting more, taking better care of myself, and trying to eliminate stress from my life as much as possible.  and BAM.  changes.  

so when you're doing all the right things and are frustrated by the lack of progress?  assess your sleep.  take naps when you can and do all you can to get good sleep. though i'm far from an expert, i know that when i am more rested and paying attention to the amount and quality of my sleep, my body begins to respond in all kinds of good ways.  it is kinder to me, allowing me to be more flexible with my workouts and eating while also seeing results, and it gives me the energy to do all of the things in my day that i need to do. 

and do we really need to question any excuse to take a nap? 

it's like eating a vegetable. feel no guilt. just do it. 

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