The Single Most Important Thing To Improve Your Health

By Greg Brookes

There are some things that a person can do on a day to day basis that will revolutionise their health. I'm not talking about the latest bunch of exercises or eating more superfoods rather something far more basic and natural. Just by implementing this one simple change to your schedule will almost immediately revolutionise your life for the better. So what is this daily miracle? The answer is sleep.

Everybody knows that sleep is important and I'm sure most people agree that they don't get enough of it. Sleep is such an important part of our lives that without it we would die.
Experiments conducted on rats have shown that sleep deprivation leads to death in just a matter of weeks. Without adequate sleep we get a fall in our immune system, reduced concentration levels, memory impairment, mood swings, energy dips and much more.

Sleep isn't just about how much we get but also about when. As human beings we are still naturally attached to the environment and the rising and setting of the sun. As the sun rises the light stimulates our eyes and activates the stress hormone cortisol. This particular hormone is responsible for stimulating movement and preparing the body for action, and will peak during the day and start to reduce in the afternoon. During the evening cortisol levels should be at a minimum and this releases melatonin and subsequently growth and repair hormones for the impending sleep. As we sleep our body gets repaired first physically and then mentally.

Unfortunately, this pattern of hormonal release isn't how most of us live our lives. We go to bed too late and feed our body full of stimulants resulting in stress hormones in the evening and no physical repair during the night. If you are not sleeping by 10.30pm then your body is missing out on vital growth and repair that happens for approxamately 4 hours during this time.
Remember you are influenced by the sun not when you choose to go to bed.

If you choose to feed yourself stimulants like caffeine, alcohol or sugar any later than early afternoon this will elevate you cortisol levels, a stress hormone, at a time when it should be reducing and in turn will not release melatonin and repair hormones when you most need then during your sleep. So if you are overdoing the coffee or alcohol in the evening then you are not repairing your body for the next day. The result is general fatigue, headaches, muscle aches and pains, joint problems, infections etc.

To live a healthier life you must start to follow your natural sleeping cycle. This means getting out of bed early and going to bed early. Help to keep your stress hormones at a minimum during the afternoon by avoiding all stimulants and dimming lights in the evening and avoiding watching tv too late. Get to bed by 10.30pm and ensure that you sleep in full darkness, remember that light is what stimulates our stress hormones and gets us up in the morning. Get a good 7-9 hours rest each night at the right time and you'll be well on your way to a more productive and healthier lifestyle.

Good night!

Greg is a health and fitness professional and author of "the no gear workout" based in Hampstead, North London. He achieves fantastic results for his clients by using his indepth knowledge and the most up to date techniques.

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