Garfield's Challenge: Sleep Debt


Garfield Wilson is the owner of a personal training company called Forward Fitness and one of the trainers from CBC's Village on a Diet. 

In the last couple weeks Garfield has challenged us to Take an Endurance Test, recognize Food as Fuel and incorporate some classic exercises into our regime. This week he looks at another major influence on our health, Sleep and Stress.
We live incredibly busy lives. Today, there is no such thing as an 8-hour work day, because for most Canadians our "work" doesn't end when we leave the office. With our smart phones, we can be reached at any hour; we have children with endless activities and school work to help with; we have homes to take care of, bills to pay, pets to walk... the list goes on. Unfortunately, when life gets hectic, exercise and sleep take a back seat while our stress levels increase at an alarming rate.

Stress is an everyday part of life. And lack of sleep can increase our stress levels even more, and affect our ability to focus, be alert and stay motivated. To be honest, there have been some nights when I myself only get five hours of sleep! I eat very well and exercise regularly, but sleep deprivation - or, more accurately, "sleep debt" - has caught up with me on more than one occasion. 

To combat our own busy schedules, and keep sleep and relaxation a priority, our family has developed some simple tools to help when life gets hectic. Try them out to help you and yours.

Manage your time at home: You prioritize your time at work in order to be efficient, so prioritize your time at home in the same way. Put your devices away and sit down to eat dinner with your friends or family, and really connect with each other. If you must work, schedule the time (i.e., I will work for one hour at 8pm), and once your time is up, stop working. 

Move to combat stress: There's a reason why you feel so good after you've exercised. Activity can boost your feel-good endorphins and take your mind off your daily worries. Regular exercise is a proven stress relief, and improves the quality of your sleep. 

Go To Bed: You are tired, so just go to sleep! You will be far more productive if you're well-rested tomorrow, rather than staying up until midnight surfing the net or checking emails. (And updating Facebook is not work, I'm just saying). Turn off the TV before you start falling asleep in front of it, and try to read before bed to calm your mind and help you get a more restful sleep.

Headaches, mood swings, low energy, and the inability to maintain focus can be managed and improved dramatically if we get reduce our stress levels and get the right amount of sleep (which is 7 to 8 hours. Minimum.) In the end, you simply need to make yourself a priority. You are worth it.

Garfield Wilson and his family in the snow

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