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Sleep

Breathing to improve sleep

19 Breathing to improve sleep
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High levels of stress are one of the most common causes of sleep problems, if we are stressed our body can´t relax and stay calm so it´s harder to fall asleep, if our mind is thinking in all the negative stuff of the day and we´re worried for something we will wake up constantly during the night.

Breathing is an amazing tool that help us get asleep faster and improve all aspects of our sleep patterns. Have you ever think of how you feel and what´s happening in your body and mind when you can´t fall asleep? In most cases we are stressed, our body and muscle are in tension and our mind is buzzing around.

The way we can fall asleep and get good quality sleep for longer periods is by calming our mind and relaxing our muscles and entire body, once our mind is calm and our entire body is relax we can fall asleep quickly.

Many people use breathing techniques to help them sleep and many of them prefer to do any of the exercises sitting in a chair or the floor, I prefer to do them lying in the bed just ready to sleep. If the goal with this breathing techniques is to fall asleep and not meditate then you can do them lying in your bed, if the goal is to meditate it´s better to sit in a chair or the floor otherwise you will fall asleep.

When we are stressed our body is alert and this sends the signal to our brain that it´s not time to relax and rest this is why we can´t fall asleep, with breathing techniques we slow our breathing and what this those is that as our breathe slows it sends the message to the brain that it´s time to calm down and our entire body starts to slow down and relax.

The best way to do this so that it actually works is to focus on breathing and keep your mind also focus on your breathe, for this you can use the 4 – 7 – 8 breathing technique by Dr. Andrew Weil or if you know other technique that uses counting while breathing go for it. Here you inhale for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7 and exhale for a count of 8 and repeat this 3 times.

The special point about this is that you need to be focus and aware of what you are doing so that you don´t lose the count this way the mind is engaged and you start feeling your breathe going slower and your whole body relaxing.

This tool needs to be done daily if you want to get the benefits, if you do this one day and you want it to work perfectly, it won´t you need time and you need to make it a habit specially if you have sleep disorders. As always when you start anything new you´ll feel wear doing this exercises and your mind will start wandering in all that thoughts you want to avoid, when you catch your mind wandering just bring it back to the breathing exercise, do not blame yourself or feel bad, remember that is something new for you.

Breathing techniques are also a great tool to use before meditation and visualization, for any meditation or visualization technique to work efficiently your mind needs to be calm, focus on breathing deeply and sense how your body relax.

There are so many different breathing techniques, some more advance than others but is important that you take one step at a time and start with something simple, once you develop it as a habit you can try more advanced techniques that go according to what you want to achieve.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life. Pam

Sleep

What we need to know about sleep disorders

18 Sleep disorders
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24

Some of us don´t give sleep the importance it deserve, we have a lot of things to do and we love doing them that we don´t want to go to sleep, we´re so inspired and motivated by our work that someone needs to stop us, others don´t sleep enough because they need to finish their work even when they hate what they do and there are some others that can get 8 hours of sleep every night, they go to bed early but can´t fall asleep.

If you are in the last group you may have a sleep disorder and it´s the reason why you can´t fall asleep or you wake up at night, here are some of the most common sleep disorders:

1.- Insomnia.- When you have trouble to fall asleep or you wake up frequently during the night and when you wake up you don´t feel rested you feel like you didn´t get enough sleep, this can be caused by stress, jet lag, illness.

2.- Sleep apnea.- Here the regular pattern of breathing while you are sleep gets interrupted for short periods of time because the airway gets blocked.

3.- Nightmares.- This one is when our dreams are scary and we get frightened and fearful so we wake up, if this happens every once in a while is normal but when it´s constant it can be caused by stress, anxiety or worries.

4.- Shift work.- Working at night goes against the internal clock of the body and it´s harder to stay alert and productive during work time and you may have trouble to get 7 – 8 hours of sleep during day. Blocking all light and noises during your sleep time is key to help you get as much sleep as you can.

5.- Restless legs syndrome.- If you feel the urge to move your legs at night while you are sleeping you may suffer from RLS, one of the causes is low levels of iron but there can be more.

We all suffer from sleep disorders from time to time, if we´re dealing with a very stressful situation, if we´ve been traveling a lot, if we are worried, it´s normal to have some nights of poor sleep every once in a while but when this is consistent then we need to do something.

There are different treatments for sleep disorders, some of them will be more beneficial than others and as with any other treatment you will get results fast, at least the symptoms will lower but almost all sleep disorders can be improved by making some changes to our lifestyle that start with making better choices, being more active during the day, especially in the morning, reducing stress and following a healthy nutrition program will improve the quality of sleep.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.

Pam

Sleep

Blue light and sleep

17 Blue light and sleep
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20

I see people almost every day trying to make better choices and live a better life but all of them only consider diet and exercise, when I tell them about the importance of sleep I get so may excuses related to why they can´t get enough good quality sleep every night.

The biggest cause of poor sleep nowadays is blue light which is the light emitted from the screens of electronic devices and some light bulbs. What this light does is that it disrupts our brains sleep-wake cycle.

Our body has a natural internal clock called circadian rhythm which is the one that tells your body when it´s time to sleep and when to wake up there are many factors that can get this internal clock out of balance one of them is blue light. Making some changes to our life have a huge impact on our sleep patterns that will improve our entire lives.

We spend a big part of our day in front of a computer and later in the day when the sun sets down we turn on light bulbs to finish what we´re doing and some of us right before going to bed or when we´re already in bed we take some time to check social media on out phones. This delay the release of melatonin and resets the circadian rhythm this is why it takes us longer to fall asleep. Have you asked yourself why you can´t go asleep fast some nights? have you paid attention what were you doing before going to bed or if you were using any electronic device in bed?

Since melatonin delays and it took us longer to fall asleep the phases of sleep also get impacted negatively so when we wake up we don´t feel rested even if we get the 7 or 8 hours.

Even when technology if s crucial part of our daily lives there are some things we can do to reduce blue light and get better sleep:

1.- Turn off all lights 1 hour before going to bed (this include electronic devices like Tv, computers, laptops, ipads, phones, bulbs).

2.- Keep your bedroom completely dark

3.- If you need to work late night (which I don´t recommend) you can get romantic and use candles or you can use a red or orange lamp.

4.- Glasses the block blue light. Nowadays you can find some glasses that blocks blue light effectively, if you have access to them use them, otherwise the first 3 points work incredibly well.

As I´ve said in other posts getting natural light from the sun specially in the morning, having an sleeping schedule where you go to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time every day and following the points on this post will improve the quality and quantity of sleep.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.

Pam

Sleep

How to improve sleep

16 How to improve sleep
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39

Our lifestyles are based on habits, if we have good habits we live a healthy successful life but if we have bad habits we won´t have the results we want and we won´t live to our full potential.

The way to improve the quality of sleep is to develop the right habits that lead you to a better life, developing one good habit for each of the 5 principles of fitness will have a positive impact in all areas of your life and it all starts by taking action, here some steps or actions you can take today to improve your sleep:

1.- Create a sleep schedule – The internal clock of our body or circadian rhythm needs to be in balance so that you fall asleep and wake up feeling rested without waking up in the middle of the night. Go to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time, even on weekends and vacations.

2.- Check the room temperature.- If the temperature of the bedroom is too cold or too hot you won´t be able to fall asleep and you may wake up in the night.

3.- Set the right environment.- Try to reduce light and noise in your bedroom, it may be difficult to eliminate outside noises but what you can do is make sure that there´s any noise or distraction in your home and your bedroom and if you can use curtains that can block light from the outside.

4.- Avoid blue light.- At least 30 minutes before going to bed turn off light bulbs and all electronics like computers, Tv, laptos, cellphones, ipads.

5.- Meditate.- You can use the 30 minutes of no light to meditate, this will help you relax your body and muscles and calm your mind.

6.- Exercise.- Exercising helps you reduce stress and keeps you in a great mood plus it has positive effects on the systems of your body that helps you sleep better.

7.- Get sunlight.- Get outside and get natural light specially in the morning, this helps regulate your circadian rhythm.

This are the best habits you can start developing today that will help you improve your sleep, they help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep. You don´t need to change everything and adopt them all at the same time, one step at a time is always the best way to do it.

Take one of this steps and commit to doing it for the next 30 days, once you feel comfortable with that take another one, if you want to get results fast you can try points 4 and 5 together so that you don´t waste those 30 minutes.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.

Pam

Sleep

How lack of sleep affects our day

15 How lack of sleep affects our day
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41

Every day I cross path with someone who didn´t get enough sleep, someone who woke up in the night several times or someone who didn´t sleep at all and around lunch it´s obvious they can´t go any longer, the short term consequences of lack of sleep are there, they feel terrible, they don´t have energy, they can´t stay focused on what they´re doing, they have headaches and they´re sleepy. We all know that lack of sleep or poor quality have negative consequences and we still don´t give it the attention it deserves.

We all want to be as productive as possible during day, we want and need to perform great, to keep energy high and be able to stay focused and keep concentration on what we´re doing but the number one factor that brings all this down is lack of sleep and this happens to all of us at least once a week.

Lack of sleep impacts our performance throughout the day and it also impacts our mood, when we didn´t sleep well we tend to be more rude and aggressive with the people around us and if we are rude, disrespectful or aggressive it will cause negative reactions from the others which turns in a negative environment, this leads to lack of motivation, lack of inspiration, not feeling like doing the work and if this continues for a period of time it can lead to depression.

One night of poor sleep or lack of sleep has a direct impact on your day you´ll see and feel the negative effects at this point it affects your coordination and memory  but when this lack of sleep or poor sleep occurs for several days it puts at risk our health both physical and mental health and it´s not only obesity or diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure, depression are all caused by lack of sleep.

One of the reasons why it is harder for some of us to lose weight and stay lean is poor sleep habits, this is what makes it impossible to stay on track on any program, if our hormones are out of balance, our metabolism is slow, we feel hungry and we crave more unhealthy foods and at the end of the day we eat a lot more, insulin and cortisol are high, growth hormone is low, we feel tired and sleepy, we don´t feel like working out, our performance is poor, we lack motivation. With all this negativity going on it´s obvious that we won´t stick to the program and not only that, our body is entirely out of balance, it is not working efficiently and the chances for us to get sick are really high.

From what I´ve learnt my conclusion is that we are doing everything wrong and out entire system is wrong, we have a lot of things to do and we need to be more productive and effective and the 9 to 5 job time doesn´t seem to enough so we work extra hours to finish all the work, the problem is that the more hours we work the less productive and effective we are, we get more tired, we are prone to make more mistakes and make bad decisions and it blocks our creativity.

If instead of working more hours we take some time of rest to go outside every couple of hours and if we reduce the total amount of hours to rest, to reduce stress, to meditate and to sleep hour productivity and performance will increase, we will be more effective and assertive, our creativity increases helping us solve problems more effectively and we are able to stay focused on what we´re doing.

In some cases it is more important to prioritize sleep over training, the recovery part your body does while you sleep is crucial for overall health, if you skip one workout it won´t be that bad considering that the reason why you skip your workout was to prioritize sleep which will give you positive benefits for your day and life.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.

Pam

Sleep

How exercise improves sleep

Exercise and sleep
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40

So many people ask me why I do so much exercise and the reason is simple, I love working out and it has amazing benefits although I don´t consider I do a lot of exercise, most of my workouts last 60 minutes sometimes I 90 minutes. One of the greatest benefits when I started working out was the way it helped me sleep better specially if I workout in the morning.

Exercise reduces stress and it can also help with depression and anxiety and since one of the causes of poor sleep or lack of sleep is stress working is a great way to reduce it and at the same time you get the benefits of quality sleep and you get in amazing shape.

If you are asking when is the best time of the time to workout many studies show that the mornings are the best time of the day. If you train first thing in the morning you don´t have to worry later, you´ve already started your day right and since exercise triggers neurotransmitters in your brain you get that feeling good sensation and you are ready to hit the rest of the day. If you have the possibility of working outside or doing some part of your workout outside to get sun light is easier for your body to control its internal clock.

Exercise improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration whether you´re not having good quality sleep or you´re not having enough sleep exercise can help you improve both.

Between resistance or cardio training one of them may have a better impact on improving sleep and that one is cardio training or aerobic exercise

If you train at night because you prefer it or because is the time of the day you can do it if your workout is high intensity and you go to bed one hour after you´re done it will be harder for you to fall asleep. If you can´t train in the morning you can try moderate intensity, even yoga or Pilates can be an option, resistance training is good but I’d avoid circuit training and  HIIT is not a good option at this time.

Enough good quality sleep also has an impact on your workouts, if you don´t get good quality sleep or lack of sleep will affect negatively your routines you won´t be completely focus, you won´t have energy and chances are that you may skip your workout for the day.

So enough good quality sleep improves your workout the same way that working out improves your sleep, if you want to get better sleep then cardio training will help you but you also need resistance training to maintain and build muscle mass.

Remember that sleep is key for recovery so if you train hard you need to get enough good sleep so that your body can recover and you´re able to hit the gym hard the next day.

Since both, sleep and exercise are important some people try to prioritize one over the other, some people love to train and workout out so they rather hit the gym even they haven´t slept that well, others hate to workout so they prefer to stay asleep even when they can get up earlier and get their routine done first thing in the morning. The problem is that they´re both important, they´re 2 of the principles of fitness so you need enough good quality sleep every night and consistent exercise.

What I recommend is getting at least 6 hours of good quality sleep every night and at least 20 minutes of exercise which if those 20 minutes can turn into 40 or 60 minutes per day it will be great at least 5 days a week, if you can workout the 7 days go for it.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.

Pam

Sleep

What you need to know about melatonin

Melatonin
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60

Most of us have problems with sleep, whether we have insomnia, we can´t get asleep, we wake up at night, we don´t sleep enough and most of this sleep problems are caused by stress. Some of us have listen about melatonin and most of us know that it´s related to sleep.

Melatonin is a hormone and it regulates our sleep patterns it tells our body when it´s time to sleep and when it´s time to wake up. As any other hormone it´s levels go up and down throughout the 24 hours of the day, melatonin starts to increase around the evening when the sun sets and it lowers in the morning when the sun rise. Since this hormones works according to the sun set and rise set the amount of natural light you get during the day will affect its production.

One of the reasons why it is beneficial to get sunlight exposure everyday in the morning is to keep the internal clock of the body balanced so that hormones like melatonin are also in balance.

Melatonin is regulated by light and the problem nowadays is that we don´t spend as much time as we need outside to get natural light exposure and we spend too much time inside where exposure to light bulbs and blue light from electronics is really high and this affects melatonin and the circadian rhythm of the body.

Since melatonin plays an important role on regulating our circadian rhythm we need to make sure that it is working efficiently so that we get enough quality sleep every night so that all other hormones and functions in the body are working properly otherwise if hormones and systems get out of balance it is harder to stay on track with our nutrition program, stress increases, energy levels are highly affected it is harder to control our weight.

Melatonin also helps regulate the temperature of our body which improves our sleep quality. Good levels of melatonin improves concentration and focus and you have more energy during the day.

Melatonin supplements have become very popular among people who have sleep problems, even when it has benefits and it can help you fall asleep if you are jet lag after a fly or vacation if you take it consistently your body becomes dependent of it so with time you´ll need more and more. There´s research that shows that melatonin supplements can have more benefits apart from helping sleep like helping with weight loss.

What I prefer as always is to make better choices during the day and improve our lifestyles, spending some time outside every day specially in the morning and reducing light at night from bulbs and blue light from electronics is very beneficial. Doing some meditation before going to bed can help settle the mind and reduce stress which also helps increase the production of melatonin.

Some studies show that milk and bananas before bed also helps with melatonin production, I´ve heard people say that if you drink a hot glass of milk before bed you´ll sleep better. I haven´t tried this and I´m not thinking of trying it out because I don´t like the taste of hot milk.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.

Pam

Sleep

Can you eat before bed?

Can you eat before bed
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41

There´s so many contradicting information about eating before bed, some say that we need to eat right before bed if you want to maintain muscle while others say that eating before bed lead to weight gain.

I know people who love to have big meals right before they go to bed they say they sleep better otherwise they are hungry and they can´t sleep if they´re hungry and I also know people who hate to eat before bed, if they´re going to have a meal or snack they do it at least 2 hours before they go to sleep and the meal needs to be small otherwise they can´t sleep because they feel full.

In the industry you´ll find people that prefer to eat before going to bed but they avoid carbohydrates and make it a high protein moderate fat meal because carbs are a source of energy and since you´re not going to use it your body will store it as fat.

Some research shows that growth hormone is increased at night so if you have big meals high on carbohydrates and proteins those will spike insulin and lower growth hormone if you want to consider this you can have your last meal around 2 or 3 hours before you go to bed.

I don´t think there´s not a right or wrong answer, for me it all comes down to what we do all day long, the type of diet we are following and our eating schedule. If you follow a ketogenic or low carbohydrate all your meals are low carbs, if you are fasting your meals will be in your eating window.

For fitness goals all your meals and the macronutrient ratios are important if you want to have your last meal before you go to bed and it fits your total macro ratios of the day you´ll still be losing fat or gaining muscle. If at the end of the day you ate less you´ll lose fat if you ate more you´ll gain muscle considering that you are exercising.

The problem I see more often is that some people have digestive problems so if they have a big meal before going to bed they find it harder to fall asleep, they feel full and is harder for them to have good quality sleep it doesn´t matter the macro ratios of the meal.

It all depends of what works best for you and what fits your eating schedule and nutrition program best, when I want to lean down and lose fat I personally prefer to keep carbohydrates low and avoid all unhealthy foods, this is what helped me improved my digestive issues and I also prefer to fast in the night so my last meal will be around 4 or 5 pm.

When I want to gain muscle I like to have one meal around 2 hours before going to bed and I make it as low carbohydrate as possible and high in healthy fast and proteins.

I don´t get obsessed whether if eating before bed is good or bad I see how my body responds and how I feel and from there I decide what to do, also focusing on the 5 principles of fitness without trying to be perfect makes everything easier. For nutrition I stick to fresh foods and try to keep carbs low to give room for healthy fats.

The best advice I can give you is to listen to your body, if you are hungry before going to bed eat something, if you feel bad when you have a meal right before bed you can try changing the macro ratios of that meal to see if it improves or you may want to get that meal a couple hours before you go to sleep.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.

Pam

Sleep

What you need to know about growth hormone

Growth hormone
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38

It really blows my mind how most people in the industry only focus on diet and exercise without considering hormones and how they can make it easier or harder to achieve any fitness goal. As I´ve said before fat loss and muscle gains are not only about calories, knowing how everything you do every single day impacts your body and hormones is highly important.

We´ve talked about insulin and cortisol today we´re going to talk about growth hormone which is an anabolic hormone, it´s a protein and it´s goal is to maintain and build tissues of our body.

Growth hormone has different functions, some of them are help burn body fat, maintain and build muscle, it helps the body with everything related to protein not only muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage they all get benefits from this hormone and it´s also anti-aging. So it help us stay lean by maintaining muscle mass while keeping low body fat and also to build muscle mass.  In order for this hormone to be able to do all this functions it needs to be high so that it can prevent the loss of protein.

In short growth hormone stimulates protein synthesis, increases fat breakdown and antagonizes insulin so if growth hormone is high your body protects protein so it is able to maintain and build muscle while breaking down fat.

There are some things that can lower or block growth hormone which are lack of sleep and stress, stress increases cortisol and when cortisol is high growth hormone is low so your body is not able to protect tissue and that´s when you can start losing muscle. Insulin can also blocks this hormone, in the presence of high levels of insulin and cortisol growth hormone will be low.

Growth hormone is higher at night but there are some ways you can increase it, some like to take it as a supplement to enhance growth hormone or improve sleep but I prefer to improve our lifestyle, enough good quality sleep and intense exercise, during an intense workout you are breaking down muscle which sends the signal to your body that it needs those muscles, and this is how you trigger growth hormone but then your body needs to recover because is during that time where your body can recover and grow.

Intermittent fasting also helps improve growth hormone contrary to what many people say, you won´t lose muscle while fasting, whit intermittent fasting you are able to keep insulin low and growth hormone high which is what we´re looking for to stay lean.

Some experts recommend not eating right before going to bed, if you´re going to have dinner or any meal do it 2 or 3 hours before you to bed, the reason for this is that our body releases greater amounts of this hormone at night but if you have a big meal high in carbohydrates or protein it will spike insulin and that can block the release of growth hormone.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.

Pam

Sleep

What you need to know about cortisol

08 Sleep and hormones
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54

I´ve seen many people on the fitness industry only talking and focusing on diet and exercise to achieve any goal whether it´s muscle gains or fat loss but hormones play an important role and if we don´t consider them we´re making everything harder.

When people want and try to lose weight most of them follow commercial weight loss programs and follow the diet and workout program and they don´t think about their hormones and the impact they have on their results. For me; losing weight, getting in shape and sustain an amazing physique is more about hormones than low calorie diets.

Cortisol is one of those hormones we need to understand. This hormone is triggered by stress and is a survival mechanism. Every time you are in a negative situation or a highly stressful situation your heart rate goes up, you are more awake and focus, you feel adrenaline increasing this are all signs that your body is in a “fight or flight” moment and it´s prepared in case you need to run, once the situation is over your body relax and calm and gets back to its normal state.

Cortisol helps us survive but if we have high levels of stress on our body, our body is not able to function properly it shots down functions and systems to use that energy to help us survive this is when we develop different health problems like gaining weight, hypertension, sleep problems.

Have you noticed that people get sick after a sever negative situation? Pay attention to people close to you and see how after a very stressful situation like a heartbreak, divorce, the loss of a loved one people get sick. When we´re dealing with those situations our body shots down the immune system, growth and other functions and there´s no one keeping our body safe from diseases.

The way we´re living nowadays is so stressful we are use to live with stress and it´s normal. Most of the times we live with high levels of stress and we don´t know it because that´s how we´ve been educated. Growing up we´ve been thought to live a very normal routine life with a “safe” job, we´ve been thought to survive and to just live day by day.

We are so use to this kind of life and this levels of stress that we consider  to be normal but they won´t help you in any way with your health and fitness goals. To make everything worst is so hard to lower cortisol and keep it low.

Getting stuck in traffic everyday to get to the office to do something we don´t love with people we don´t like and just get paid enough to pay bills. Dealing with people we don´t feel comfortable, discussing with coworkers or our boss, the fear of being fired, dealing with coworkers of other areas during lunch. And many more negative situations that we have to deal with everyday are the reason why we´re always stressed.

For weight loss, if cortisol is high you´ll get a much tougher time to lose fat, you may be following the best nutrition and workout program but if you´re living with high levels of stress you won´t get the results you are looking for. To lose fat you need to keep cortisol as low as possible and this can be hard to do.

High levels of cortisol is one of the reasons of poor quality sleep, our body has its internal clock and everything it does is regulated you may have heard of the circadian rhythm and sleep stages, this can get very complex and we´re going to talk about it on separate post but for now what you need to know is that cortisol is higher in the morning and it decreases throughout the day, if cortisol levels are high in the night it will be harder for you to fall asleep and you´ll be waking up frequently.

Cortisol is released by stress so finding ways to low stress is key to help you lower cortisol and have good quality sleep every night.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.

Pam