Tag Archive | sleep

To Snooze, or Not to Snooze…That is the Question

Well, I hope everyone is off to a great 2014.  So far, we’ve had a blizzard and an epic cold front here in NY…which, on top of usual everyday work/life stresses, has made it EXTRA difficult to get up for my 5:20am weekday alarm to get to the gym. I’ve found myself hitting the snooze button more now than in the past, and was trying to figure out why, when I stumbled on a Huffington Post article by osteopathic physician, Robert Rosenberg.

He poses a good question when his patients ask “is it okay to keep hitting the snooze button for those extra zzzz’s?” … He tells them to ask themselves why they need to do that, and does it really make them feel better.

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Naturally, this got me thinking…Why do I feel the need to hit the snooze button? Do I really think an extra 8-10 minutes will make a difference?  Does it?  And furthermore, I had to admit to myself that I actually set my alarm earlier than I tend to get up to accommodate a hit or two of “Snooze.”  Can anyone else relate to this habit?

Dr. Rosenberg goes on to explain:
When you hit the snooze alarm, you are disrupting your current stage of sleep. And unfortunately, in many ways, fragmented sleep is worse than no sleep. As an example, if you are in REM sleep and you interrupt it with the snooze alarm, this can lead to an inability to process and reconcile emotionally laden memories from the previous day. In addition, fragmented sleep can result in moodiness, cognitive problems, and trouble paying attention.

The bottom line is that if you chronically find the need to hit the snooze alarm, something is probably wrong. You may be out of sync with your internal circadian clock. You may be a night owl trying to keep the work schedule of a morning lark. You may be someone who is failing at attempting to burn the candle at both ends. Alternatively, you may have a sleep disorder that unbeknownst to you is disrupting and depriving you of quality sleep. Hitting the snooze button is a poor substitute for healthy sleep

I hated to admit it, but as I read the article, I realized that the doc is right. If I’m feeling the need to hit the snooze button during the week (I don’t even set an alarm on weekends), I’m probably not getting enough sleep. I’m already using a sleep mask, which definitely gives me a sounder sleep by keeping any light out (laptop charging light, the moon, street lights, etc).  And I set my coffee maker up the night before so that I know a fresh, steaming cup of delicious java awaits me when I finally get out of bed…but I am STILL in a snooze button habit!

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Some suggestions that Dr. Rosenberg mentioned include “putting the alarm clock where you cannot reach it; using alarm clocks that work by putting out ever-increasing amounts of light as wake-up time approaches; having a coffee maker with a timer set for ten minutes before wake time and close enough so that you can smell it. Even getting a device that can automatically increase your bedroom temperature about one hour before it is time to get up can be helpful, as rising body temperature is another signal to wake up.”

I think I’m going to try putting my alarm clock out of arms reach and actually set the time for when I want to wake up, not when I want to start hitting snooze, haha.  Moreover, I also need to make sure my phone is in “do not disturb” mode so that my sleep is not disrupted by vibrations and dings letting me know someone wants to chat.

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I’ll report back after a while of trying this and see if I can kick the snooze button habit.  If anyone has any other tips, tricks, or snooze button confessionals, feel free to share!

Ciao for now,

-E

Sometimes Stress Comes Around and it Knocks You Down…

Do you ever feel like so many little things are stressing you out that it just snowballs into one giant stress cloud that you can’t seem to get away from? Well that’s been me this past week. Some career choices on the horizon, working too much, an upcoming birthday (and with that, feelings of “I thought my life would be different/better at this age), and a few other things going on…it just sort of hit me all at once.overwhelm1Source

Normally I would workout rigorously to relieve the stress, but this week my body has rebelled and all I’ve wanted to do is sleep. I tried muscling through (literally) and going hard at the gym, but then when I woke up yesterday with a sore throat, I realized that my body was telling me to sloooowwww downnnn and rest.

So last night, I was in bed by 9pm and slept in until 7:30  this morning (rather than getting up at 5:15 to get ready for a pre-work day gym session). When I got up, I initially felt guilty for skipping the gym (especially because I had taken off the day before), but I also know better than to over-do it when my body is telling me it needs rest. I’d rather take two days off and have a great workout when I go back than push myself and have a bunch of sub-par workouts and still feel lousy.rest-daySource

It’s taken me years to figure out this balance and practice good self-care. We are all susceptible to stress and things we cannot control, so it’s important to figure out what works for YOU to feel better and manage that stress. Sometimes knocking out a gym session will do the trick, but sometimes you just need 2 or 3 days (or maybe even longer) to let your body unwind, recuperate, and feel   stronger.

As I sip my coffee and write this, I’m already starting to feel the itch for a workout, which makes me grateful that I took a couple days off. Tomorrow is going to be a killer gym sesh…I can feel it already 🙂

Ciao for now!
-E

Fitness Motivations

I was at the grocery store last night stocking up on fresh produce, and in casual conversation, I mentioned to checkout clerk that I was heading for a run after I went home. His reply? “Well you don’t need it!” Which I guess was supposed to be a compliment (because I suppose I appear in good shape/fit), but what it did was get me thinking about the motivation behind my workouts…

I’ll preface my own explanation for why I work out by saying that many people I know view exercise as punitive…as a means to an end (losing weight, usually). But in truth, just like with nutrition, it is small changes/improvements over time that yield lasting results. It means doing a little bit when you can, and not having an all-or-nothing mentality. It’s making it a priority but also fitting it into your busy schedule/lifestyle.

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Okay, so back to the point of this post…What motivates me to exercise:

  • Cardio is good for heart health, and I want my heart to tick as many days as possible!
  • Weight training increases muscle mass, which increases resting metabolism (how many calories you’re burning when you’re not doing any activities)…and this helps me not have to count calories to stay at a healthy weight.
  • Strength training/weight bearing exercise is good for bone health, and I don’t want osteoporosis when I get older.
  • Working out gives me a natural serotonin (happiness hormones) boost so I have a more positive mood/outlook on life.
  • Exercise is great for reducing/coping with stress!
  • I feel more toned and strong when I work out. It’s a definite confidence booster.
  • I sleep better when I workout regularly.
  • It’s my “me” time, where I can either zone out or reflect on things I’m too busy to think about during the day.

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Those are some of the concrete reasons that I have made working out a regular part of my life. It’s become as important to me as brushing my teeth. Working out just to lose weight or purely for vanity reasons never had much staying power for me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have my days when I don’t feel like working out, or when I don’t have the energy for a full-blown session…but when I’m out for a run and I see someone being pushed in a wheelchair, I think to myself about how lucky I am that my body is strong enough to be able to do physically challenging activities. It’s that type of thinking…being grateful and respectful of my body’s capabilities…that keeps me going and drives me from within.

If you want my advice, work out because you deserve to feel good in your body…after all, it’s the only one you’ve got while you’re on this earth…and hopefully you’ll be around for a good long while!

Ciao for now!
-E