8th Law of Exercise: Sleep (and Stress)
Stressed out, sleep-deprived people don't eat right and don't exercise regularly. Stress depletes your energy, strength, and desire, while poor sleep habits affect your moods and immune function, along with your cognitive and motor performance. Burning the candle at both ends makes it impossible to be fit and healthy.
Do you realize that if you took the fear and anxiety out of every "stressful" situation in life, the end result of that situation would greatly improve? You can panic and freak out all you want, but time will still pass and life will happen, whether you stress out about it or not. So why not choose patience or curiosity? Patience is a virtue, and who wouldn't want to be virtuous in a stressful situation? To be curious means asking the right questions to help find solutions. When does fear, worry, or anxiety ever help a situation? Stress occurs when we are incapable of moving through a situation logically, peacefully, positively, productively, and gracefully. It take a lot of energy to be stressed out. Allowing stress to overtake you means you're having a tough time dealing with reality. Don't let stress get your goat. Stand up, take a deep breath, and see if you can deal with reality under pressure. I like the parable about the 10 people standing in line at a bank. Three robbers come storming in—screaming, yelling, and waving guns around. They terrorize the place and steal everyone's jewelry and money. What's the moral of the story? Ten people experiencing the same event will have very different reactions to it. Some will never recover, while others will have a crazy story to tell at cocktail parties. How do you respond to the events in your life?
I like Byron Katie's 3 Kinds of Business Theory:
God's Business. The things that happen in this world that are out of my control.
Their Business. The choices other people make based on their life experiences so far.
My Business. The choices I make that shape my life.
Don't waste your time on gossip, ridicule, envy, self-pity, anger, guilt, arrogance, impatience, regret, manipulation, jealousy, fear, worry, and anxiety. It's too stressful, and it destroys the energy you need to stay healthy and fit. If you choose understanding, truth, clarity, patience, devotion, gratitude, acceptance, wisdom, and forgiveness, you will have peace of mind and all the energy in the world to do whatever you want.
Sleep does more than make you feel rested. Two recent studies with healthy volunteers demonstrated suppression of immunological function in participants after one night of modest sleep deprivation. The activity of certain white blood cells and the production of chemicals essential for immune system performance significantly decreased. After a good night's sleep, most immune functions went back to baseline levels. About 40 percent of adults experience sleepiness that interferes with daily activities. Most U.S. adults get less than 7 hours of sleep per night during the workweek, while research has determined that certain parameters of immune function are enhanced by more than 7 hours of sleep.
Another study showed that the leading cause of traffic accidents in this country is NOT alcohol but sleep deprivation. If you don't have enough energy to stay awake to drive your car, how will you have enough energy for a 6-day-a-week workout plan? We're not sleeping enough hours, and the limited time we spend trying to sleep is filled with so much mind chatter that we never get the rest we need.
My Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary defines sleep as follows: the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored. In the Taoist philosophy, there's a belief in yin and yang energies. These are opposing energies that create balance. Exercise is yang energy. Sleep and rest are yin energy. There must be proper balance between vim and vigor (yang) and inward calm (yin). If you don't get enough sound sleep, your body will NOT receive the proper restoration it needs to complete or succeed with any fitness program. So TiVo® American Idol and go to bed!