In this 3 part series of Get Healthy, we talk about the foundations to good health: breathing, digestion & sleep. Before you read on, understand that all 3 areas are closely linked and can easily affect one another.

Part 3 – Sleep

You need approximately 8hrs of uninterrupted sleep everyday. Fact.

If you are getting less than 8hrs and waking up more than once per night then this is an area of your lifestyle that needs improving.

Lack of sleep can:

  • Drive up inflammation within your body. Inflammation is something you do not want more of as it can aggravate other conditions and diseases. It can also deteriorate health all on its own.
  • Reduce your sensitivity to insulin and raise your stress hormone cortisol. Insulin and cortisol are on a delicate balance to stabilize blood sugar. Ever noticed that after a restless night sleep you crave carbohydrates and sugary foods?
  • Make you more likely to overeat. Lack of sleep can increase your hormone ghrelin responsible for telling you that you are full.

Improve your sleep

First of all go to bed early enough so that you can get 8hrs of sleep

We recommend creating a sleep strategy that helps prepare you for sleep. The objective of a sleep strategy is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest).

  1. Diaphragmatic breathing
  2. Take a 20minute bath
  3. Practice yoga nidra
  4. A 30minute phone, laptop & TV free period before bed
  5. Read a book (nothing to do with work)
  6. Install blackout blinds
  7. Reduce Caffiene and have midday as your cut off time
  8. Reduce alcohol intake
  9. Write down your thoughts/plans for the following day so you don’t need to remember them
  10. Higher carbohydrate meal in the evening

It should look like type 3 or 4 on the Bristol Stool Chart

How should it smell?

It shouldn’t smell offensive.

Transit time?

Do the beetroot test; Eat 2-3 beetroots and note the time between eating and excreting (red poop). The ideal is 12-24hrs.

Strategies to Improve Digestion

1. Switch on your parasympathetic (rest & digest) nervous system

If you are in fight or flight mode then your body is not going to prioritise digestion. Take a few minutes before you eat to activate your rest & digest nervous system with some diaphragmatic breathing. See part 1 for breathing technique videos.

2. Chew your food & don’t rush

Are you the person that scoffs food down to crack on with the working day? If so then this strategy is a priority for you.

Digestion starts in the mouth and is very important. Chewing your food properly increases the surface area of your food making it easier to digest later in the process. It is also the first area of carbohydrate digestion.

Allocate 10-15 minutes of time away from work to be mindful of eating.

Chew your food enough so that it is broken down into small pieces. 5-10 chews for soft food and up to 30 chews for denser food.

3. Hydration

Staying hydrated will improve transit time and poop consistency. We recommend 1 litre of water for every 25kg of bodyweight. So for example if your bodyweight is 75kg then aim for 3 litres per day.

4. Fibre

Adequate fibre intake will improve bowel health whilst adding bulk to your stools. We recommend the following fibre targets below:

Women 30-35g per day

Men 40-45g per day

For more information see our post on fibre.

Implement the strategies above for the next 4-6 weeks and monitor your poop. If you see no improvement or change in this time then further investigating may be required.

Any questions about this post please get in contact.