Getting healthy doesn’t have to be a drag. It doesn’t mean eating wheat grass smoothies, alcohol-free beer and running 24 hour endurance marathons. That’s why we’ve prepared a series of un-boring tips that’ll give you small steps towards leading a way healthier life.
Even when they were hilariously gigantic, like on episodes of Miami Vice or The A-Team, mobile phones were undeniably handy. Although handy, they weren’t necessarily fun. Nowadays, they are the definition of un-boring. From beating your high score in Ridiculous Fishing to binge-watching your favourite Netflix shows, smartphones keep guys entertained and connected 24/7.
What many of us don’t realize is that all of this fun and convenience comes at a price: It hinders our ability to fall asleep and sleep soundly.
Why the snooze blues? It boils down to three main factors:
Brain drain: The opposite of what should be happening before you sleep; those games, emails and shows stimulate your brain. Instead, you should gradually wind-down your brain activity.
Stress: It’s a similar story with the rest of your body: Playing a game or composing an email causes you to tense up, often without realizing it. This can cause your adrenal gland to produce cortisol, a sleep-inhibiting hormone tied to our “fight or flight” response to stress.
Glow: The light emitted by handheld devices delays the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. As shuteye comes later and later, your body clock adjusts to your new cycle and soon you’re stuck in a sleepless rut.
Avoid these tech-related pitfalls with three easy steps:
1. Unwind before bed
Half an hour of technology-free time before bed will help your mind and body transition smoothly into sleep mode.
2. Give tech the boot
Your bedroom should be a quiet, cool, dark sanctuary that induces slumber. Ban the TV, tablet, phone and laptop.
3. Disconnect your family’s devices as well
The aforementioned devices should also be removed from all the bedrooms in your household. They may disrupt a child’s sleep which in turn causes stress and sleeplessness not only for the child, but for parents as well.
Technology is not the only culprit here; alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine can also thwart a good night’s sleep. Read here for 10 more tips to get better shut-eye.
When was the last time you woke up feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to take on your day? If you’re like most Canadian men, chances are it wasn’t this morning. You’ve probably heard by now that most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, and that getting less (and funny enough, more) sleep can lead to a host of health risks like lower testosterone, poor concentration and even stroke. But what about guys who walk that knife’s edge between sleep deprivation and the bare minimum? Can some men really survive on six hours of sleep a night?
It turns out the amount of sleep you need depends on your age, genes and lifestyle. Earlier this year, the U.S.-based National Sleep Foundation brought together sleep specialists from every corner of the medical world and released a “Recommended Sleep” chart. For guys between ages 26 and 65, there are no surprises: you’re looking at 7 to 9 hours as your ideal sleeping window. But there are still some people who can sneak in just six hours of shuteye each night and still kick some ass. Another sub-group of (unlucky?) dudes needs a whopping 10 hours each night to function properly.
But what about you? Let’s start with what we know about sleep patterns. According to Statistics Canada, Canadian men report they sleep less than women on average. The reasons behind this phenomenon aren’t fully understood, but we do know things like young kids, work stress and a lack of exercise can eat away at length and quality of ZZZ’s.
We also know sleep deprivation lowers testosterone levels in men (you can thank Peterborough’s Brock University Sleep Research Laboratory for that recent discovery). If you’re still not getting it: lower testosterone = erectile dysfunction. Have we got your attention now?
The benefits of figuring out your individual sleep window are beginning to shape up. So how do you do it?
Keep sleeping notes. Write down when you go to bed and when you wake up each morning. If you’re too lazy to monitor your slumber, there are awesome digital wristbands that track your sleeping pattern through apps (FitBit One and Jawbone Up are great). Once you’ve figured out your sleep time, take a minute to assess your mood when you first get up and a few times throughout the day. If you’re irritable or finding it hard to concentrate, try setting your bedtime back by half an hour for a week. Repeat as necessary.
Cut back on caffeine. This will be a challenge, but if you can stop masking your fatigue with coffee, you’ll figure out pretty quickly if your minimum sleep time is on point.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. If you’ve got young ones at home, you’re probably LOL’ing at the mere suggestion of a proper night’s sleep. For the rest of us, things like longer work days, a lack of exercise and even a crappy commute are taxing on sleep quality. Take the YouCheck health tool, courtesy of the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, to give you a starting point for evaluating your overall health. If you’re lacking in the exercise department or feeling wired from your work stress, even a 20-minute walk around the block can make a big impact on your sleep pattern.
Some guys can function fine on six hours of sleep a night, but your ideal sleep window depends on genetics and lifestyle. For most guys, seven to nine hours is the sweet spot. Keep track of your sleep pattern (or have an app do it for you) and take note of your mood for a true, individualized read on your ideal sleep time. Taking control of your sleep doesn’t take much!
1) Who gets any sleep these days? Sleep patterns of Canadians. Accessed July 11, 2015. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-008-x/2008001/article/10553-eng.htm#2