As part of the festivities for last Friday’s World Sleep Day (it’s March 17th – perhaps mark it in your calendar for 2018 and maybe grab a belated extra hour snooze tonight?!) I had the superb opportunity to hop on board a plane with a friend and voyage to the peaceful climes of Westin La Quinta, Marbella. I’ve written extensively about the importance of sleep – it’s a critical component of the wellbeing formula, rather than some sort of hedonistic luxury. To quote sleep legend, Professor Adrian Williams, we’re taling about ‘survival of the most rested‘. In line with this, I was thrilled to trial Westin’s brand new Bedtime Routine and to have had the chance to gift two lucky people their very own wellbeing break to the beautiful Westin La Quinta, Marbella! I spent a few nights in one of their deliciously compelling ‘Heavenly’ beds, so-called for good reason, and left feeling better than when I arrived, which is a sort of wellbeing nirvana, to my mind! Click MORE below to see the full behind-the-scenes of the routine and a little glimpse into the trip… (more…)
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This Monday is known as Blue Monday, a statistically miserable day by virtue of things like rain, dark, cold, work, abandoned resolutions, fatigue etc. I recently attended a fascinating TEDx talk by Professor Adrian Williams, a 30-year-practised leading authority on Sleep, based at London’s Guy’s & St Thomas’ hospital; I was reminded of sleep’s unsung value to our lives. Consequently, to combat Blue Monday, I’ve decided to revisit the theme of ‘the importance of sleep’ and have added a few bonus bits & pieces! I think most of us recognize we can benefit from it, but we don’t approach it in a structured way. The appropriate length and quality of sleep allows your body to function at peak efficiency both mentally and physically, and it’s just as valuable as regular exercise and wholesome nutrition. A good night’s sleep can improve overall health and make every aspect of the subsequent day more productive, so I’ve detailed what I think are the key reasons why we should all invest more time in our rest! In this post, I’ve also collaborated with Philips to test their Wake-up Light, as getting up is the part of sleep I find the most difficult! Click MORE to see it all… (more…)
If you’ve been following the musings of Fitness On Toast for a while, you might know that I often focus on the importance of sleep to complement a healthy lifestyle. It’s one of the key inputs that many of my Personal Training clients seem to minimise! To further my understanding of sleep, I recently took part in a fascinating research study to find out how sleep can enhance sporting performance and indeed overall fitness. Bensons for Beds, the UK’s leading bed specialists, have teamed up with The Sleep School, founded by the UK’s leading sleep expert Dr. Guy Meadows, to create a new data-driven resource, which aims to help everyone achieve a peaceful night’s sleep, in a natural way. This post reviews the test, and includes an interview with Dr. Guy, digging into the theory a little more! (more…)
Last Friday night, I was invited to attend a seriously unusual sleepover… Dr. Guy Meadows, one of the UK’s foremost authorities on all-things ‘sleep’ & founder of The Sleep School was running a consultation at the Charlotte Street Hotel in partnership with Febreze, who’ve just launched what I can only describe as ‘sandman mist’ for your bedroom and sheets (though they call it Sleep Serenity)! After we concluded, I put into practise some of his tips & tricks in one of the hotel’s deliciously comfortable 6ft beds for an uninterrupted, pure night’s sleep. This post builds upon my previous article on Sleep last month, and gives a feel for Dr. Guy’s Five Secrets of Great Sleep to help your body operate at its peak when you’re working out the next day! (MORE…)
One of my favourite feelings in the world is collapsing into my bed, physically and mentally exhausted, knowing that I have a long, deep, deserving sleep ahead of me. But that’s not just lazy indulgence, as a good night’s sleep isn’t a passive activity, but rather, I think it’s just as actively valuable as regular exercise and quality nutrition. A good night’s sleep can improve overall health and make every aspect of the following day more productive. This post is my take on why and how sleep matters in your healthy lifestyle.
1) “WHY SHOULD I ???”
Getting the right quality and amount of sleep:
– Enhances muscular recovery by speeding-up protein synthesis,
– Restores and maintains mental alertness (by discharging the brain’s accumulated daily Adenosine build-ups),
– Releases Human Growth Hormone – 60% to 70% of daily HGH secretion takes place when you’re in early sleep, following which the deepest sleep cycles often occur! Poor quality sleep can negatively impact human growth hormone levels.
– Restore organs, bones, and tissue; replenishes immune cells; and circulates human growth hormone around the resting body.
– Vastly improves the quality of interaction with other people!
2) MY “SLEEP TIGHT” ETHOS…
‘Get more sleep’ is easily said, but I know a lot people who simply can’t fall asleep, and toss and turn for hours on end. For a while, that was me too, stuck in a catch 22 of feeling too tired during the day, going to bed too late and waking up too early in the morning, only to do it all over again. One way I tackled this was by working out on a regular basis which is proven not only to help you fall asleep, but also to improve the quality of that sleep. Every body is different, so it takes time to figure out what works best for you; I personally prefer a heavy workout early in the morning, a productive day, then a light ‘exercise’ in the late evening (e.g. a power walk which gives my body the final reminder of just how tired it really is!). I wouldn’t recommend doing an intense workout before bed as that energises the body instead of calming it. Afterwards, a relaxing warm bath (I add this lavender bath oil to unwind muscle fatigue) and a mint tea (try to avoid any caffeine or alcohol before sleep, as they’re stimulants). Other things that may help is avoiding oversleeping as it will interrupt your circadian system (‘body clock’), which in turn will set you off later when you need to fall asleep. I’d stay away from sleeping pills as much as possible as they cause the body to develop a dependency, and they don’t get to the root of the real problem anyway, but just mask the symptoms. There are stories of politicians surviving on 4 hours sleep a night, but frankly, that’s unhealthy for anyone in the long run. I’ve always felt 7 hours to be a minimum in order to maximise wellbeing during the day, and I regularly aim for 8 hours. Also a room that’s dark and not too hot helps too. Investing in the largest & highest-quality mattress the room will take can be life-changing, and even fun little apps like the Sleep Cycle alarm clock can help you sleep smarter too!
3) “…AND WHAT IF I DON’T ???”
Not getting enough / high-quality sleep:
– Weakens the immune system,
– Renders you less energetic which will lower the quality/intensity of a workout,
– Affects the concentration of sugar levels in your blood – they’re likely to become elevated, which can lead to development of a pre-diabetic condition,
– Slows the metabolism, leaving it harder to maintain or lose weight,
– Induces a sluggish sense,
– Can increase appetite (certainly does with me!),
– Makes you moody and loose the motivation to workout or do anything!
Hope that helps you to rest up, sleep well, and train harder!
I recently had the excellent fortune to visit a charismatic, cozy, alpine bolt-hole named Les Fermes de Marie, nestled within the charming cobblestoned town of Mègeve, high up in the mountains of the French Alps. If you fancy going on a little ‘last-minute spring skiing weekend’, then perhaps read on to discover a little of the magic behind this outstanding traditional mountain destination!
To me, sleep has long been ‘everything’, but others have been coming round to this stance, as already, sleep is emerging as quite the hot topic in 2018, with several national newspapers drilling down into its favourable effects our constitution; as health and well-being (quite rightly) occupies a growing mindshare of ‘the Zeitgeist’, it seems only natural that society will begin to challenge that age-old travesty of sacrificing sleep to ‘look committed’ to a cause. We may, in our machismo, think of it as a bank account that can be raided, as a currency which can be exchanged for kudos, or perhaps as an unproductive use of our 24 precious hours, but times – and attitudes – are unquestionably changing. Sleep is fast being seen as an indulgent luxury of which we should consume more, not time wasted but time well invested, and even perhaps as a currency to be spent of its own accord. The tide is beginning to turn, it’s no longer as socially unpalatable to prioritise one’s own recovery, to have an early night, or even (heaven forbid) two in a row! The nation has begun a long overdue conversation about this topic; recovery is on the agenda more than ever before, whether you’re into fitness or not. This post is in collaboration with Tempur, and highlights the so-called Holy Trinity of Recovery; Sleep, Stretching and Sports Massage! Click MORE to read on… (more…)
Skiing is a grueling full-body aerobic workout, and regularly puts thousands of calories to good use every single day… However, in my younger days, I can only remember it as an uncomfortably awkward experience for the unfortunate, suffering mountain-goer. As a skier, you’d have to tolerate some serious unpleasantness to survive the week; the sweaty boots would imprison and crush your feet and always inflict shin splint, the skis weighed a ton, chairlifts were slow and unreliable, the clothes weren’t really weatherproof, the food was terrible, the chalet beds were paper-thin and yielded a pitifully un-restorative night’s sleep… and I shan’t touch upon the neon all-in-one “fashion” monstrosities! Thankfully, times have changed unrecognizably, for ’skiing’ has radically upped its game, and nowhere on the planet has this alpine art de vivre been more finely honed than Courchevel. I ventured to the warmth of Hotel Le Saint Roch in Courchevel 1850, to deliver the first Alpine Active Escape I’ve covered on this blog, and the refined experience I discovered there has transformed my understanding of pure joy on the pistes! Click MORE to see the full experience…
Happy New Year dear reader; I shall kick off 2018 with some travel-related food for thought… Australia has long been at the top of my bucket list, kept on that list thanks to the mammoth pilgrimage required to reach the complete opposite point on the planet. For many travellers in the Western hemisphere, it’s a trip you might only ever make once (if perhaps at all); for others, a single visit and they decide to undertake the permanent move East. It is an enchanting and diverse land, but there’s too much to cover in a single post, so I’ll break it into two digestible bits; this is Part 1, and recounts a sublime week at Qualia on Hamilton Island, part of the Whitsundays, blessed with turquoise crystal waters, dusted with powdered white sands, and fringed by lush tropical forest. Totally repaired since a dreadful tropical cyclone wrought devastation upon the islands some 7 months earlier, The Whitsundays are Australasia’s answer to The Maldives, but with one unbeatable competitive advantage: the Great Barrier Reef. Click MORE to see what exotic treasures I found there…
Under a week to go until a BIG focal day in many people’s annual calendar, and if you’re anything like me you’ve left your seasonal gift shopping perilously late! Fear not, my dear disorganised reader, for here’s my snappily-titled “Christmas Eve Emergency Health & Fitness Top 10 Present Idea List” (phew!) which I whipped up for just such an eventuality – perhaps it’s one to send your other half for those last-minute ideas! So here we go, please Santa may I have… (more…)