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I hope you had a fabulous weekend and enjoyed your Christmas. Did you receive health related things this year - Fitbit etc? Let me know what you got - I love hearing about new gadgets, cookbooks etc.

This week I wanted to check in and see how things are going. Other than feeling excited/relieved/exhausted that Christmas is over.  Specifically, I wanted to know how I could help you out with 2017 just around the corner. What kind of goals are you working on for yourself or for others? Any struggles or challenges you're having that I might be able to help with? What kind of things would you want to learn more about, or stuff you'd love to see me cover?

Just reply back to this email and let me know. Seriously, I check them all.

I thought this week I would write about the importance of sleep, as it may be something that doesn't happen as much during the festive season.  Late nights/parties combined with normal life having to continue means sleep is one area that takes a back seat.  However quality sleep is vital to our health, our well-being and our performance both during exercise and at work/home. 
 
Sleep is also quality recovery. It is essential that people who are exercising regularly or have recently undergone surgery or treatment maximise the recovery process. Poor quality and quantity of sleep will compromise tissue regeneration, decrease effective cognitive processing (thinking), increase fatigue and pre-dispose you to injury.  
 
The amount of sleep needed has been said to be between 7 and 9 hours per night.  However, the amount needed varies from person to person and some people have been known to perform well on less than 6 hours per night (Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Leonardo da Vinci).
 
It is better to go by how you feel and whether you feel like you are getting enough sleep.  If you have any of the following sleep signs and symptoms you may need to address your sleeping habits:
 
•   Waking up groggy, difficulty in getting out of bed
•   Taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep
•   Broken and restless sleep
•   Waking up thinking of tasks to do

If you are interested, take the following test to see what your 'sleep score' is:
 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sleep/profiler/
 
Some simple tips for healthy sleep habits:

  • Your bedroom should be for sleep only - avoid televisions and computers near your bed as having these on means your brain takes longer to relax.
  • Simple breathing exercises can help you to unwind. Breathe into your abdomen, not your chest, through your nose for three seconds, and then breathe out for three seconds. Pause for three seconds before breathing in again. Practice this for five to ten minutes at night.
  • Avoid caffeine after 4pm (earlier if you are very sensitive).
  • Talk about your day and write a list of things to do for tomorrow so that you don’t have busy thoughts running through your mind during the night.
  • Put some drops of lavender on your pillow, which has been shown to help make you sleepy.
  • Some people find that valerian tea/herbal tablets can help you to drop off (check that valerian doesn't interact with your medications).
  • Avoid alcohol: alcohol can help you to drop off, but can then make you restless.  Alcohol is also a diuretic, which means it encourages you to get up more to pass water.  Alcohol is also more likely to lead to snoring, which can restrict airflow into the lungs. This reduces oxygen in your blood, which disturbs your sleep and contributes to your hangover.
  • Keep your bedroom cool as being too warm will disrupt your sleep. Avoid having the heating on all night as this will also dry out your skin.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep night after night, or if you always feel tired the next day, you might have a sleep disorder.  Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively so talk to your GP about your concerns. 

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