The science of sleep…

I have been studying sleep for a while as after my accident, I would get very little, interrupted, chaotic sleep. I had the hardest time ever falling asleep! I would get very little blocks of sleep throughout the night and would sleep most of the day. Unless somebody was home, I didn’t eat because of how much effort it took to make something and how far away my bedroom was from the kitchen. Ice-cream became my best friend – Sara Lee Rocky Road to be exact!

I learnt that while you are asleep, your brain and some body parts are in overdrive. When you watch people sleep, they look peaceful – unless you have a two year old and a six week old and you pretty much awake 24/7. But underneath that calm exterior, the brain and some other body parts are hard at work.

Once our neurons tell our bodies that it’s time to go to sleep, we pass through four stages until we are in a deep sleep.

Our brains are on overdrive during sleep, as it clears itself of toxic byproducts that naturally accumulate throughout the day. Many neurological diseases are associated with a lack of sleep, because when you don’t get your sleep, your brain doesn’t have this chance to clean itself – it’s like a robo vacuum in a way!

We tend to think of sleep as a time when the mind and body shut down. But it is the complete opposite; sleep is an active period where a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening happens – That’s why sleep was such an important part of my recovery, when I slept, my brain was healing itself.

Overnight, bits and pieces of information are transferred from more tentative, short-term memory to stronger, long-term memory—a process called “consolidation.” Researchers have also shown that after people sleep, they tend to retain information and perform better on memory tasks. Our bodies all require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesise hormones.

Healthy sleep is critical for everyone, since we all need to retain information and learn skills to thrive in life. But this is likely part of the reason children—who acquire language, social, and motor skills at a breathtaking pace throughout their development—need more sleep than adults. While adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, one-year-olds need roughly 11 to 14 hours, I’m lucky with my 2 year-old, he sleeps from 12-14 hours at night! The baby however – not so much! During these critical periods of growth and learning, younger people need more sleep for optimal development and alertness. So when the hell will the baby sleep more?!

Unfortunately, we can’t just accumulate sleep deprivation and then log many hours of sleep to make up for it (although paying back “sleep debt” is always a good idea if you’re sleep deprived). The best sleep habits are consistent, healthy routines that allow all of us, regardless of our age, to meet our sleep needs every night, and keep on top of life’s challenges every day.

Poor sleep is linked to weight gain – the reason my ass is growing at a rapid pace at the moment! Gosh I can’t wait for the baby to start sleeping better – I need to get back to training again! A lack of sleep is actually one of the main causes of obesity. In one extensive review study, children and adults with short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to become obese.

Studies show that sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories. Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation. This includes higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite.

Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function. This includes cognition, concentration, productivity and performance. All of these are negatively affected by sleep deprivation – That’s why us new mums walk around like freaking zombies! A study found that short sleep can negatively impact some aspects of brain function to a similar degree as when we are drunk.

Good sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and enhance memory performance of both children and adults. So when the baby starts sleeping through I’m praying to the big man upstairs that my brain will strengthen again and it will start to function like a boss!

Sleep has been shown to enhance athletic performance. In a study on basketball players, longer sleep was shown to significantly improve speed, accuracy, reaction times and mental well-being.

Less sleep duration has also been associated with poor exercise performance and functional limitation in elderly women. A study in over 2,800 women found that poor sleep was linked to slower walking, lower grip strength and greater difficulty performing independent activities – This is why my ass is growing at a rapid pace! I worked so hard after my first baby to become fit, healthy and athletic. After having second bub, I was smaller than what I was when I fell pregnant with him – but now, lack of sleep has got me getting all large again!

I’m not happy in myself.

Weeks before second bub came along I was supposed to get out all my plans & info Jaydon (my trainer) had put together for me – yeah that didn’t happen! I just need to sit down, start our meal plans, go back to not having certain things in the house, set some pretty strict guide lines when it comes to food & drink, write out in my diary when I will be exercising – this way, no matter how tired I am, I will do it. I lost over 30kg last time! I can do it again! Another 10kg and become fit again.

My true inspiration are these awesome people! Queenslanders Sharny & Julius! Fitmum & Fitdad. I work out our own diet etc. but follow these guys for inspiration and they really kept me on track last time, I’m hoping they will this time too!

It’s known that sleep quality and duration can have a major effect on many health risk factors. These are the factors believed to drive chronic diseases, including heart disease. A review of 15 studies found that people who don’t get enough sleep are at far greater risk of heart disease or stroke than those who sleep 7–8 hours per night.

Experimental sleep restriction affects blood sugar and reduces insulin sensitivity. In a study in healthy young men, restricting sleep to four hours per night for six nights in a row caused symptoms of prediabetes. I am mega concerned about my husband. He sleeps very little as he’s always stressing or worrying about something. I would love for him to join me on my fitness journey this time – but, I can’t see it happening.

Poor sleep habits are also strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar in the general population. Those sleeping less than six hours per night have repeatedly been shown to be at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Mental health issues, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders. It has been estimated that 90% of people with depression complain about sleep quality. Poor sleep is even associated with an increased risk of death by suicide. Those with sleeping disorders like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also report significantly higher rates of depression than those without.

Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function. One large two-week study monitored the development of the common cold after giving people nasal drops with a cold. They found that those who slept less than seven hours were almost three times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept eight hours or more. If you often get colds, ensuring that you get at least eight hours of sleep per night could be very helpful.

Studies show that sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories. Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation. This includes higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced levels ofleptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite.

Sleep can have a major effect on inflammation in your body. In fact, sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage. Poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, in disorders known as inflammatory bowel diseases. One study observed that sleep-deprived people with Crohn’s disease were twice as likely to relapse as patients who slept well. Researchers are even recommending sleep evaluation to help predict outcomes in individuals with long-term inflammatory issues.

Sleep loss reduces your ability to interact socially. Several studies confirmed this using emotional facial recognition tests.

One study found that people who had not slept had a reduced ability to recognise expressions of anger and happiness. Researchers believe that poor sleep affects your ability to recognise important social cues and process emotional information.

Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health.

You simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.

I really need to get my head back in the game! but not to just start exercising again, to go in 150% guns blazing, full hog healthier lifestyle! Force myself and get up everyday and do it for myself, to regain my confidence and boost my energy levels.

Truth is – at the moment I’m tired. Every night when I sit down for dinner I look at my plate and feel physically sick. I’m tired to the point of exhaustion but my days not over yet. I still have to clean up after dinner, possibly put the washing on and go for a bath – god it’s hard to force myself into the shower!

Aquo Xx

Retraining your brain…

Recent advances in the field of neuroplasticity have been able to prove how your brain is hardwired and genetically designed to heal, change and even rewire itself after all types of traumas, including but not just limited to brain injuries. Research also explains how your brain changes, and how, with the support of a rehabilitation team, you can retrain your brain to be similar, if not better than before the trauma.

Brain injuries are quite common. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 700,000 Australians have a brain injury, with daily “activity limitations” and “participation restrictions”. Three in every four of these people are aged 65 or under. As many as two out of every three acquired their brain injury before the age of 25. Three-quarters of people with a brain injury are men.

The fastest improvement happens in about the first six months after injury. During this time, the injured person will likely show many improvements and may seem to be steadily getting better. The person continues to improve between six months and two years after injury, but this varies for different people and may not happen as fast as the first six months. Improvements slow down substantially after two years but may still occur many years after injury. Most people continue to have some problems, although they may not be as bad as they were early after injury. Rate of improvement varies from person to person.

It is common and understandable for family members to have many questions about the long-term effects of the brain injury on the injured person’s ability to function in the future. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine the long-term effects for many reasons.

The more severe the injury the less likely the person will fully recover. The length of time a person remains in a coma and duration of loss of memory (amnesia) following the coma are useful in predicting how well a person will recover, I guess I was just an exceptional case.

Over the past 5+ years, I have had to work extremely hard to get to where I am today. Four years ago, if you told me in four years time you will be married with two kids I would have laughed in your face. I had to retrain my brain to walk, talk, eat, communicate – you name it. I still have trouble at times trying to say what’s in my head. When I’m tired, I slur when I’m speaking – it’s as if I’m drunk. AND on top of all that I suffer at times with my fatigue, I get so run down it’s hard for me to do anything.

No matter what age you are, your brain has the ability to form new connections and neurons, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. In a way, your brain is like a muscle – the more the use it, the stronger it gets! Did you know that every time you learn something new, your brain forms a new connection? Participating in leisure activities that keep you thinking and learning (such as reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments or dancing) will help keep your mind sharp over time. However, cognitive abilities like memory and mental focus aren’t the only ways that you can exercise neuroplasticity – you can also train your brain to think happier thoughts, stop eating bad foods, or turning to alcohol or drugs during stressful moments by using a technique called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Retraining your brain isn’t an easy task, and it can take time to overwrite old neural pathways with new ones, below are some ways to achieve a stronger brain.

  • Don’t try to change everything all at once. The gradual approach is the surest way to success!
  • Believe you can do it. If you don’t believe in yourself, you will never achieve your goals.
  • Reward yourself for the small successes. When you reach your short-term goals, give yourself a pat on the back… but don’t celebrate with substances that harm your brain.

I chose to add the next video, I really admire Andrew’s attitude – he reminds me so much of myself. Even with Cerebral Palsy he pushes himself and takes on challenges that people without a disability wouldn’t take on. He was transferred to a normal high school from a special school which is amazing in itself and is currently completing a masters degree in disability studies – GO ANDREW! His outlook on life is quite amazing for a person with a disability, I know myself how hard it can be at times to think positively about our situations.

Regular physical activity has so many benefits to every part of the body… well, close to. Some benefits include:-

Controlling your weight. Along with diet, exercise plays an important role in controlling your weight and preventing obesity.

Reducing your risk of heart diseases. Exercise strengthens your heart and improves your circulation.

Helping your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels. Exercise can lower your blood sugar level and help your insulin work better. This can cut down your risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. And if you already have one of those diseases, exercise can help you to manage it.

Helping you quit smoking. Exercise may make it easier to quit smoking by reducing your cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It can also help limit the weight you might gain when you stop smoking.

Improving your mental health and mood. During exercise, your body releases chemicals that can improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed. This can help you deal with stress and reduce your risk of depression.

Helping keep your thinking, learning, and judgement skills sharp as you age. Exercise stimulates your body to release proteins and other chemicals that improve the structure and function of your brain.

Strengthening your bones and muscles. Regular exercise can help kids and teens build strong bones. Later in life, it can also slow the loss of bone density that comes with age. Doing muscle-strengthening activities can help you increase or maintain your muscle mass and strength.

Reducing your risk of some cancers, including colon, breast, uterine, and lung cancer.

Improving your sleep. Exercise can help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Improving your sexual health. Regular exercise may lower the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. For those who already have ED, exercise may help improve their sexual function. In women, exercise may increase sexual arousal.

Increasing your chances of living longer. Studies show that physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers.

Aquo Xx