Sleep Facts & Sleep Hacks

 
Sleep Facts & Sleep Hacks.jpg

It’s no secret that sleep plays a vital role in your overall physical health. It facilitates the healing of your heart and blood vessels, muscle growth, tissue repair, hormone synthesisation, and so on. Recent studies even show that a night of poor sleep could lead to overeating on the following day (1). Not only is sleep vitally important, but lack of sleep is dangerous and damaging. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and stroke (2).

For the sake of brevity, I’ve outlined my 3 favourite sleep hacks that have made big a difference in my life. Heads up: 1 and 2 are caffeine-related, so feel free to skip ahead if you aren't a coffee or tea drinker like myself.

Facts & Hacks:

1. Fact: Caffeine has a half life of ~6-8 hours (the time it takes your body to eliminate one-half of the caffeine you put into it). Many people don't realize this, because their caffeine “buzz” has long worn off by the 8 hour mark; however, the amount of caffeine left in your system prior to bedtime directly impacts your quality of sleep (3).

Hack: Do not consume caffeinated beverages 6-8 hours before bedtime as there will still be a significant amount of caffeine in your system. Sounds obvious, but many restaurants, for example, encourage late caffeine consumption by offering coffee or tea after dinner. Just say no! Even better, give yourself a cut-off time and stick to it. Mine is no caffeine after 2pm.

P.s. In case you weren't aware, “decaf” coffee is not, as it's name implies, free of all caffeine. If you think you're in the clear by making your afternoon latte a decaf, think again. That tricky bastard...

2. Fact: Caffeine typically takes up to 48 hours to completely leave your system, meaning that unless we periodically take that time off from consuming caffeine we will start developing a tolerance (read: addiction), which can lead to requiring more and more caffeine in our system to get the desired effect. This then translates to even LESS quality sleep.

Hack: Try cycling your coffee intake. For example, have coffee during the week (Mon-Fri) and take the weekend off (Sat & Sun (48hrs)). The best part is, on Monday when you most need it, you’ll get that incredible productivity boost that coffee used to give you when you started drinking it in the first place! A truly incredible feeling.

* Note - The first time I did this I had a pretty bad headache that weekend! I didn’t realize how addicted I was, since my coffee intake had been rising due to the tolerance I built up over time. Now that I cycle regularly I no longer get any withdrawal symptoms and can enjoy a significant caffeine boost with just two cups per day.

3. Fact: Blue light emitted from electronic devices at night will throw the body's biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack (4). Because of it’s similarity to to sunlight, our bodies do not biologically understand that the sun has set and that it’s time for us to start producing melatonin (a hormone required for restful sleep). Scientific research shows that every hour of blue light (CPU, LED or otherwise) exposed to the eyes before bed suppresses ~30 minutes of melatonin production. Meaning, if you are on your mobile device, watching a show before bed, or even worse falling asleep to the television and being exposed to blue light right before bedtime, you are majorly suppressing melatonin production. You may fall asleep, but you won’t be getting quality sleep.

Hack: Use Night Shift Mode (the built-in blue light filter) on your iPhone or similar programs for your Android. There’s a reason Apple forced it upon us during an upgrade... personally, I believe that it may even be a liability issue because of the horrific effects of chronic sleep deprivation. If you are falling asleep to a video or working late on your laptop, download flux; it’s free and will sync to your time zone to simulate sunrise and sunset, thus gradually reducing and replacing blue light with red light (the spectrum that most resembles fire, the only light that we would have had at night thousands of years ago).

Those are my personal top 3 tips out of a myriad of techniques and studies that help you get a full night’s sleep. I’m curious to hear yours! Let me know in the comments section below.

As always—Live Better, Longer!

 

- Tom Hodgins


  1. "Well|Sleep Poorly? You May Eat Too Much the Next Day." 2 Nov. 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/02/well/eat/sleep-poorly-you-may-eat-too-much-the-next-day.html
  2. "Why Is Sleep Important? - NHLBI, NIH." 22 Feb. 2012, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why
  3. "Shawn Stevenson: "Sleep Smarter" | Talks at Google - YouTube." 22 Dec. 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fu6lbDBEnlY
  4. Blue light has a dark side - Harvard Health." 2 Sep. 2015, http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side

 

 

Q&A With Blair Wilson About BMI

 
Photo of BOD POD taken at the MedX Facility in Toronto

Photo of BOD POD taken at the MedX Facility in Toronto

Q: What is BMI or the Body Mass Index?

A: The Body Mass Index is an equation developed by a Belgian astronomer and Mathematician Adolphe Quetelet in 1850, which is used to determine a person’s level of good health or conversely, obesity. BMI is calculated by taking a person’s body mass and dividing by the square of their height.

Q: Is my BMI all I need to know about my health?

A: No, definitely not! BMI has been a widely accepted indicator of health for over a century; however, recent studies definitively show us that the BMI scale of measurement has become an outdated measure of health. I personally don’t believe it should have been instituted at all.

Q: Why is the BMI system a flawed indicator of health?

A: The BMI measurement is an insufficient indicator of a person’s health because it doesn’t accurately depict the three different measurements associated with weight: muscle mass, bone mass, and fat mass.

BMI uses only weight and height measurements, and is based on averages over history that are generally accepted to be at least satisfactory to other methods of measurement.

The issue with the BMI measurement is that if a person of ‘healthy’ BMI were to lose 10lbs of muscle, and simultaneously gain 10lbs of fat, they would still be considered perfectly healthy, as their BMI doesn’t change. Alternatively, if someone gains 10lbs of muscle, but their fat mass stays the same (resulting in a lower body fat percentage), they will get kicked into a higher BMI category which is then interpreted as being less healthy.

This type of measurement to determine health just doesn’t make sense!

Body composition measurements are a much better indicator of health. These measurements actually pinpoint the percentages of fat, and muscle mass that an individual carries around with them every day.

Q: What are the ramifications of using BMI to measure health?

A: Using BMI to measure health fosters a fitness culture that prioritizes achieving a lower number on the scale, and undervalues strength training, or building and retaining muscle mass.

Theoretically, a person that is of average height and weight but carries around 50% body fat would still be classified as a perfectly healthy person under the BMI measurement scale, when from a compositional standpoint this person is obese. We live in a society with an ever-growing obese population, yet if more accurate testing devices such as Bod Pod’s or DEXA scans were being utilized to measure body composition, those numbers would likely be even higher.

Strength training is one of the most effective ways to improve overall body composition, yet prominent fitness trends of steady state cardio are practiced in far greater numbers than resistance training.

Studies consistently show that those with higher levels of lean tissue age better. People who retain or gain muscle as they age tend to not only live longer, but also have fewer heart attacks, less significant falling events, and better blood pressure measurement than those who succumb to the effects of sarcopenia.

Q: What do you advise that I do for my health instead of focusing on my BMI?

A: I recommend you locate a facility in your area that utilizes proper technology to accurately test people’s body composition. Hydrostatic weighing, DEXA scans, Bod Pod’s (such as the one at our MedX facility in Toronto) and some versions of bioelectrical impedance are all very good options.

 

- Blair Wilson

 

 

Resistance Training - The Investment Plan of Exercise

 
Photo taken @ MedX Precision Fitness

Photo taken @ MedX Precision Fitness

In financial planning, we invest today in order to provide for needs and wants that we may encounter down the road. Whether you are saving for a house (good luck if you are looking in Toronto), a child’s education, a new business venture, a trip, or retirement, future needs always dictate today's investment activity.

Solid investment strategies are ones where we invest our resources, like time and money, in high-quality assets on a consistent and sustainable basis. This strong foundation compounds over time and pays us dividends down the road. Similarly, investing your time and energy into resistance / strength training builds a muscular foundation that provides immense physical benefits over time. In fact, there are many parallels between financial investing and investing in one’s personal fitness.

Wise financiers know that choosing to invest in quality assets will yield higher returns. This notion can also be applied to fitness. Like in the markets, there are stars and dogs in the world of fitness. Choosing high-quality exercise and training programs - we recommend only those which have been scientifically tested and proven - will always ensure the best returns for your body.

As with a smart investment, a proper fitness regimen must be sustainable in order for it to remain consistent over the long term. You will never gain maximum success jumping in and out of investments whenever you feel like it, and the same is true with fitness: slow, steady, and disciplined wins the race!  

When you think about your fitness plan today, approach it as you would your investment plan and consider your future needs and wants. How can you ensure that in your future you have the freedom to enjoy the same activities you enjoy today? When it comes to investment planning, this may mean building enough savings so you can afford to retire and spend more time on treasured activities like golfing, skiing etc. In terms of fitness, planning for the future means building the strength today that you need to do the things you love, in order to maintain the long-term functional ability required to keep doing them for as long as you like.

So next time you are thinking about giving up on the last 15 seconds of a leg press, consider that every time you push yourself to your limit you are making a significant investment in your future ability to live life to its fullest.

 

As always, Live Better, Longer!


- Ian Hodgins