By Lia Threat
This new year is different from others. You may have started your year by going all-in with extreme workouts and diets. However, this year calls for something different. Many are still dealing with increased daily stressors with work from home, financial instability, homeschooling, and lack of socialization, in addition to pandemic challenges. What is needed may not be the most challenging HIIT workout, but different tools to achieve optimal health.
Prioritizing rest is one tool that will equip your body with a solid foundation to help complete your goals from your New Year’s resolutions.
The best form of detox is sleep.
The glymphatic system, the toxin removal system for our brain, removes cellular waste during sleep. The glymphatic system is unique because it is most efficient during sleep. Other mechanisms are also at rest during sleep, such as those responsible for controlling our neurotransmitters. Lack of sleep can significantly impact mood, behavior, speech, completion of tasks, and memory, so prioritizing sleep can help you function more efficiently.
Strenuous exercise may increase cortisol levels.
Working out without adequate sleep or participating in a strenuous workout while under heavy stress may do more harm than good, raising cortisol levels that are already high. For example, if you are experiencing stress to the body from lifestyle or illness, try a restorative exercise like walking in nature, tai-chi, yoga, Pilates, light jogging, or swimming. Since training and nutrition is individualized, pay close attention to your body’s signals, and schedule your workouts accordingly.
Try eating foods rich in magnesium or melatonin if you have trouble sleeping.
A few options are bananas with a handful of pumpkin seeds, almonds, or cashews as an evening snack. Tart cherry juice (high in melatonin) and grapes are all food that may aid sleep. You can also try adding a few complex carbohydrates to your evening meal. Examples are starchy vegetables like roasted squash, carrots, yuca, plantains, and sweet potatoes.
Hopefully, by making some of these small but significant changes to your sleep, you will notice a difference in your daily goals!