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 was recently whisked on an adventure with Air New Zealand to discover a different side to California, one which is very much off the beaten path, especially compared to my California trip last year. This excursion led me to LA where I voyaged onward to Joshua Tree National Park, Hicksville Trailer Palace, and Anza Borrego Desert State Park as well as Two Bunch Palms. I had the chance to experience one of the few Dark Sky communities in the world, gazing up at the Milky Way and Jupiter (through a telescope) in Borrego Springs. However, the focus of this post is to share the incredible art of singing sound baths. If you’ve never tried it, it involves neither water nor nudity but instead is a mindfulness movement which took up roots in the desert at the beautiful Integratron – a somewhat quirky location 20 miles north of Joshua Tree. It’s a 38-foot high, 55-foot diameter, all-wooden dome designed to be an acoustic resonance chamber, and an electrostatic generator “for the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel”. Sounds trippy? Click MORE to learn more about a totally unique experience…
A fortnight ago I escaped to a remote Eco Retreat called Deplar Farm, in an ancient, primordial landscape where people live a very different, and highly compelling life. Chief amongst any list of ‘the most beautiful places to visit on Earth’ will be found Iceland – I now understand why, and I hope this post shares some of that magic. It’s long been a romantic dream of mine to visit this isolated, mystical land with its rumbling geothermal engine, and tundra-punctuated basalt landscape; perhaps more interesting to you, my dear reader, is the recent proclamation in The Lancet that Iceland is ‘the healthiest country in the world’ alongside my homeland Sweden! But don’t be fooled, as it’s also one of the most inhospitable places to live on the planet – temperatures where I visited can plummet to an average of −30°C in January, and howling winds can lash at a brutal 160mph, with several meters of snow dumping daily. This means schools close, infrastructure suffers and cars avoid some roads for risk of flipping and/or just being buried! The land is barren and rugged but that’s bred a nation of robust and resourceful people. I was astonished by the natural beauty and the local food, but more than anything by just how much there is to do here! Click MORE to discover my expedition to Deplar Farm, the ultimate modern luxury retreat that I uncovered in the land of trolls and elves – a truly magical Icelandic saga!
This little colorful Tofu Salad with Cashew Dressing is something I designed to make the most of the fridge leftovers – salad innovation is a totally freestyle discipline in that you can literally chuck in whatever you fancy; I’ve chosen a mixture of colorful everyday affordable vegetables with a mixture of crunchy textures, supplemented with the silky softness of the tofu parcels and augmented by the deep and rich flavours of turmeric and cumin as well as the thick breadth of the cashew dressing. The dish is undisputedly vegetarian, but the cashew and tofu add a decent source of plant protein, and since it’s properly summery in London right now, this is a real ‘sit outside in the evening sun‘ dinner dish which is both filling yet light enough to enable an unconstrained night’s sleep! Click MORE for the ingredients and ‘how to’… (more…)
Snuggled between the two talismanic Piton mountains of St Lucia on a UNESCO World Heritage site, surveying the gentle breaths of the Caribbean Sea, rests the world-renowned Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort. I visited, and experienced some of the most authentically delivered and luxuriously-crafted Caribbean hospitality, punctuated by some seriously demanding and gritty fitness activities. This destination was host to a unique and unforgettable Active Escape involving ocean swims, boot camp classes, morning yoga, a bamboo massage, and a brutal hike up (& down) the larger Piton mountain. Click more to see and evaluate it for yourself!
You may have spied that I recently ventured west to Bath for a Great British city ‘wellness break’, and through my escapades around that wonderful place, I wondered what lay further beyond, more westward still in the British Isles… this weekend, as a guest of the charming team at Visit Wales, I discovered precisely that. On a bank holiday city break to Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, I hiked the beautiful Taff Trail and toured the Millennium ‘Principality’ Stadium ahead of the UEFA Champions League final in June ! Here’s what I discovered…