Sleep isn’t just about getting enough hours; it’s about rejuvenation and healing. While we all need about seven to eight hours each night, getting enough stage-4 deep sleep and having a consistent wake time are vital. Stage-4 sleep is the only time we fully recharge, healing tissues, restoring energy and managing mental conflict. Studies also show that shifting our wake time by 90 minutes or more can reduce energy, impair the immune system, increase body fat independent of diet and exercise and contribute to cancer. So go to bed close to the same hour each night and, more importantly, get up around the same time each day. Taking melatonin (one to three milligrams) 30 minutes before bed promotes longer stage-4 sleep, providing the body with enough energy to restructure the next three pillars.
Eating well takes a little time and forethought, but there are a few key basics that will substantially improve your metabolism and your health. Make sure you get protein at each meal – it is the building block of the body and stabilizes blood sugar. How much protein? One gram per kilogram of body weight divided among three meals (if you weigh 132 pounds, that would be 20 grams of protein per meal). You don’t need to avoid all grains and starches; just make sure that when you have them, their physical size is smaller than that of the protein. Then fill the rest of the plate with vegetables and salads. Commit to removing one bad thing from your diet in general, such as white sugar, bread or desserts, but have a treat night once a week.
Working out isn’t just about weight loss; it’s about increasing muscle strength, improving circulation and feeling good. The benefits continue long after your exercise has finished, so you don’t need to train like an Olympian; just go and play like one. Try to exercise every day, even if that means just walking an extra stop on the subway or taking the stairs rather than the elevator at work. The key is to ensure that you enjoy the type of exercise you do. It could be dancing, bowling, going for a walk or taking part in a game of Frisbee. Doing exercise you dislike will end up increasing cortisol, your stress hormone, undoing most of the benefits that exercise offers. Exercise should be a regular part of your routine, but if it’s completely new to you, start small, once or twice a week, and build from there.
First rule of stress management: Don’t overbook your schedule. Learn to say no, and implement some stress-reducing techniques, such as deep breathing, massage therapy or even watching a funny movie and laughing. Supplement with Sereniten Plus, a peptide sequence and green tea extract that reduces cortisol and resets the central nervous system back to its “quiet side” without side effects. Magnesium helps to relax muscles, regulate bowels and reduce headaches, all of which can minimize stress.
Penny Kendall-Reed is a naturopathic doctor and bestselling author. You can find her at pkrhealth.ca.