Rest and Digest

Fitness, Lifestyle, Supplementation

So a lot of what we allow our bodies to do autonomously comes down to what we are aware of ourselves. For something like sleep, intake of nutrients and how well we can further process them is easy to overlook, when we adhere loosely to ‘5 a day’, ‘plenty of greens’, ‘protein for recovery’ and you’re good to go.

It’s this general rule of thumb approach to health which applies to that exact degree, generally, yes balance, yes life and yes you can eat whatever tickles your fancy as long as you are active enough, sure. Especially when the alternative would otherwise be eating absolutely everything you can get your hands on without any regard or remorse, this kind of advise still definitely serves a purpose.

Let’s look at it this way, Fight or flight, the alternative state to rest and digest, our bodies defense to danger and stressors. A reflex which protects us from the elements, burns up calories and would probably deck someone at the checkout in M&S rather than taking the time to read a label.

How much of our impulses and balance of these two states influences our eating lifestyle habits?

You only have to look at how a typical day pans out aside the accessibility of ideal food choices or convenience to match the need to fuel in between meetings and busy schedules. There’s only so many times you can prioritise work over what you put in your body before you realise that you’ve taken all your holiday days and you still don’t feel any better for it.

Can the same be said for sleep? Short changing your bodies chance to rest and digest, spurring on this need for more energy whilst simultaneously starving it of both. A looming overcompensation surely awaits, which is why we always feel so lethargic and tired on a weekend when we’ve actually slept more than in the week. Acknowledge your bodies demand for more rest aside your ability to keep it awake with caffeine and stimulants, they might suppress your appetite and sleepy symptoms momentarily but the demand for deep, restful sleep goes up even further as a result. I do believe there’s such a thing as a sleep hangover which can only further impede on the following week considering frequent weekend debauchery and ludicrously late nights.

Do you starve and gorge? Burning off the remnants of last night’s takeaway in one frantic day without the need to eat and enough adrenaline fuelled stress to make it easier to forget?

Eat and rest?

Do you eat purely for enjoyment or performance? The latter merely being a determining factor for exactly that, you can’t expect to put crisp and dry in an F1 car and expect to win. The same goes for Slimming World and all else aside from macro or calorie counting, everything fits a purpose. If one or the other holds you more accountable for what you consume and better serves your lifestyle or fitness goals I personally think just stick to it.There’ll always be a way to lose weight given you have a big enough incentive to do so, alongside the various new methods and diets that emerge off the back of conventional dieting that doesn’t grab people the same way a quick fix does. Ascertain whether it is sustainable enough to stick to over a longer period with the most effective approach and all other variables considered?

There’s only so much vigour to come out of fads and flexible dieting besides its passive allure, the thought of eating from a post stick note size list of foods certainly doesn’t sound appealing or sustainable to the majority of people. What is important is finding something that works day in day out and only stopping when it stops working.

The same can be said for investing all of your money in your sleep health before putting the simpler of solutions to the test. It’s this immediacy and buy now pay later mentality that has plagued any such bearing or reward for life’s simplest pleasures, a good night’s sleep being one of them? Do you need an expensive mattress? Lavender spray? A Spotify playlist consisting purely of humpback whale songs and shamanic drumming?

Now I’m not saying that any of these things are foolproof methods or required means of helping you sleep, what I am saying is everyone has their own relative habits, if you can do one thing differently and it means you feel better for it, why not?

So here are 5 things you can do, followed by 5 potential supplements you can research for your own use that I have personally tried myself…

1. Shower close to bedtime

The sudden temperate drop from the heat of the shower will allow your body to cool down and rest quicker rather than tossing and turning flustered with heat.

2. Black out your room, that means devices too.

You hear all kinds of witchcraftery with blue light exposure and the effect it has on our brain, while a lot of people tend to use watching something just before they go to sleep to help, and here’s one objection to this rule already. Unless you have to watch something before bed, ditch your phone, put it on charge, close your curtains, turn off any other lights.

3. Eat a Carb rich meal late on.

Now before you all jump down my throat and tell me how you can’t digest food properly this close to bed time, it works for me. So unless you get bloated or struggle to get comfortable shortly after eating a late meal, stick to a few hours before.

4. Light a candle, make it a ritual

Lighting something, whether it’s incense or your favourite candle tells you that’s its time to chill out or time for bed. We’re creatures of habit, just like a morning coffee, anything subtle that can remind us to start winding down is worth doing.

5. Fresh sheets, fresh start

The national sleep foundation found 7/10 subjects recalled a much better sleep and actually looked forward to bedtime much more than not, now unless you’re royalty or have the luxury of sleeping in a nice hotel often enough, the likelihood of fresh sheets every night is pretty unrealistic. Maybe even change them fresh midweek in order to accommodate the last few busy days and crucial sleeps before the weekend?

I can quite happily sleep anywhere if I’m tired enough and it’s near an open window. So if you can find the best ways you can drift off faster and without interruption, repeat this process every night. Making sleep sound like a military operation, but if you’re up early every day and your performance is residing on the quality of your rest, it’s worth looking into more closely.

Now since were trying to utilise all of the above before all of the things below, I’m putting these next 5 products in a seperate blog as a means of encouraging your own research and understanding of them before buying.

In no particular order…

1. Ashwagandha

2. ZMA

3. Melatonin

4. Valerian root

5. 5-HTP

These are all things which I will discuss in more detail in my next blog

‘Top 5 supplements for sleep’

Happy rest and digest-ing

Jake 💪

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