Shier Strength FBB - August 2018


A good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your mind and body. One study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that the quality of your sleep is much more important than the quantity — that is, if you want to feel rested. And we all want to feel rested. So, what can you do to improve the quality of your sleep and get the rest you need? Listen to your body. This, above all else, is crucial to a good night’s sleep. Your body knows when it’s time for bed. Generally, you want to go to bed when you feel tired, whether that’s at 8 p.m. or 1 a.m. Whenever your body tells you it needs rest, you should make a habit of going to bed then. The more consistent you are, the better your sleep will be. Wake up naturally. Jolting yourself awake with an alarm or radio isn’t doing your brain and body any favors (it can be stressful on the body and even elevate blood pressure, which is not good first thing in the morning). If you do need an alarm, consider a wake-up light. Wake-up lights mimic the sunrise, slowly brightening the room, waking your body in a natural, gentle way.

smartphone — before bed is detrimental to sleep quality. Light from these devices is disruptive to your brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which helps regulate your circadian rhythm, and screen time before bed can throw off normal SCN function. Put your excuses for staying up too late to bed. Say no to “one more episode.” And all those emails? They can wait until tomorrow. Not getting enough quality sleep is harmful to your mental and physical health. When you get into the habit of following these three tips, you’ll find yourself feeling rested and refreshed in no time.

Kick the screen habit. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: Looking at an electronic screen — a TV, computer, tablet, or

There’s no denying that, at times, life can be difficult. All of us face obstacles in our quest for lasting well-being. But for decades, study after study has shown that regular exercise can be a powerful tool in raising spirits and making us generally happier over time. Aside from instilling a sense of control over your destiny and giving you the incredible feeling of achieving your goals, exercise boosts your emotions on a fundamental, chemical level through the production of endorphins, serotonin, norepinephrine, and anandamide. But how does this process actually work? For a long time, researchers and gym rats alike have extolled the virtues of endorphins and their connection to exercise. Your brain produces these neurochemicals whenever your body comes under stress or feels pain, acting much like a natural painkiller. The compound helps you reduce the pain you’re experiencing and can result in feelings of euphoria. Most people attribute that magical, exhausted bliss that washes over you post-workout to endorphins. But there’s something more complicated going on. Sure, your body produces endorphins when you exercise. But most studies that measure endorphin production after working out measure endorphin levels in the blood, not the brain, and endorphins can’t pass through the blood-brain barrier. What’s more, your body may not start to produce endorphins until you exercise for more than an hour.

That post-workout “high” — and the more lasting, positive effects on your mood — are probably more due to other neurotransmitters, such as anandamide, sometimes called “the body’s antidepressant,” or serotonin, another natural mood stabilizer. These, as well as norepinephrine, are elevated following exercise. Together, they create those good vibes you feel whenever you’re exercising regularly. So next time you hit the gym, remind yourself that it’s not just good for your body — it’s good for your mental health as well!

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