Thursday, October 9, 2014

On Sleeping In, Instead of Working Out

I've been thinking a lot lately about sleep. 

I am 100% a morning workout person. I always have been. I like getting my endorphins first thing in the morning, just like my Mom taught me. Now, I'd say, for the past year and prior to starting school full-time, I was pretty committed to morning workouts (mostly yoga). And I'll be really honest and say, I definitely strolled into my former advertising job a few days a week around 9:30am or 9:45am and not 9am on the dot, just so I could fit in a workout that started at 7am rather than 6am. [However, anyone that works in advertising knows that's fairly normal...especially if you're a creative. For a marketing/account folk like I was, it wasn't as normal, but was still acceptable]. 

But now, my life is very different. It's better too. But different. 

Now, each day, Monday through Sunday, has its own unique schedule. 

Now, all my priorities have shifted, except my commitment to my relationships with my loved ones.

Now, work is no longer a priority, unless I am physically at work, working (serving). I do not take work home with me (holy moly - this is amazing, by the way, after six years of doing the opposite).

Now, school is a top priority. And that means, my brain is constantly being stimulated. Neurons are getting fired like woah. And while I am loving learning new things, I am also finding that, simply put... I am tired more often.

I have also come to the realization that while working in my last job, though I did quite well, I was not really using my brain. This is an honest yet sad realization, especially given the duration of my time in that role (over four years).

There is lots of information out there about how much one should sleep. And I'm not here to answer that. I just wanted to share how I am feeling and to reiterate that sleep is a good thing and it is very important to listen to your body when it comes to sleeping. Our bodies are so damn smart and when we sleep, lots of amazing things happen to help us continue to live healthfully.

Did you know when you sleep, your body repairs the metabolic damage caused by free radicals? Free radicals are essentially the bad guys, are toxic, and accumulate with age, and antioxidants are the good guys that fight free radicals. That's why we hear "eat your antioxidants" or "those blueberries - antioxidant rich!" 
Bottom Line: Sleep helps with metabolic repair and metabolism. And let me just emphasize, sleep is critical for healthy metabolism. 

Did you know that when you sleep, your brain consolidates short-term memory into long-term memory? This is key for me right now with all my studying! Sleep also allows receptors in our brain to "rest and reset" so they remain sensitive. Sleep helps you remember the stuff you need to remember and be able to retrieve information faster.
Bottom Line: Sleep helps with memory and retention.

Oh, not to mention, when you sleep,  your liver works very hard to detoxify your system. And that detox is oh so important, given all the toxins in our world today (not to sound like a downer).

So lately, there have been some mornings where I just feel that I must sleep in an extra 30 minutes or hour, because I am really, truly tired. This means, skipping my planned morning workout. 

Do I love missing my morning workout? No. But there are days where I need the extra sleep more than the workout. 

I am so, so stubborn when it comes to my 'routine,' especially with working out. However, I am accepting that listening to my body and honoring its needs is more important. Especially right now. So I don't make it to yoga in the morning? No biggie - I'll just do a HIIT workout* in my living room as a study break later in the day, if I can and if it feels right. 

So whether you are a student or not, are you listening to your body? Are you giving yourself a chance to properly rest and reset your mind and body? Don't feel lazy because you slept in and missed your bootcamp one morning. Sometimes, you really need it. Learning to listen to your body is much easier said than done, because we are stubborn and are good at feeling guilty for not doing something (myself included). But I challenge you to pay attention and try. Because we all deserve a little extra rest once in a while. 

*I love free HIIT workouts and especially love the Fitnessista's You Tube Channel <-------- She is one of my favorite healthy living bloggers who offers excellent workouts (a variety of kinds, including Barre, Ab burners, Zumba, HIIT, etc...) for free. Among my favorite are her Tabata workouts which are 4 minutes short and HIIT. I highly recommend checking her out if you feel like you need to switch things up and have limited time to work out! 

**Note: sleep quality is a whole other issue, and if there is interest, I'm happy to do a post on it in the near future.

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