What is Sleep all About?

chimpanzee asleep in a tree

Sleep. Something we all do and are all familiar with. Whether we are an 8 hour a night person or refreshed with less, we all need it. It is essential to our survival. 

Scientists think that pretty much every land dwelling mammal experiences sleep. Even dolphins sleep - although with half their brain at a time, which is a rather clever way of them staying alert enough to avoid predators and stay afloat to breathe. 

Scientific studies mean we now know a bit more about sleep and why it is important, although there is still a lot that we do not know. Why we need daily sleep is still not certain for example.

So what is sleep all about and why do we need it? Let’s start with a little bit of science...

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Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Have you ever looked on whilst someone tried something adventurous, scary, thrilling and you thought,

‘I wish I could do that… but…’ ? 

And then inserted some spurious excuse to talk yourself out of trying, like, ‘I’m too old/ young/ big/ small/ weak/ strong…’ ?

If the answer is yes more times than you would like you are likely living in the comfort of your Comfort Zone. On the face of it this might sound like a good place to be. However, there are also great benefits to stepping out of it… 

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Training movements or muscles

Training movements or muscles

There are a million different ways to exercise out there. I’ve moved away from thinking of these ways as “right” or “wrong”, but instead they are just “different”. And some ways will be more/less appropriate to you, depending on things like:

  • Your end goal
  • Training background
  • Current health/injury level
  • Previous health/injury level
  • Personal preference…

I am going to talk you through two of the main exercise types to give you something to think about today. So here goes…

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What is the easiest thing I can do to eat more healthily?

What is the easiest thing I can do to eat more healthily?

Loo Read – Something you can read in the 3 minutes you are sitting on the loo…

Don’t forget, we have an entire online course devoted to helping you Eat Better for the long term. Click here to take a look. In the meantime, to get you started…

People often ask, ‘Should I be eating this food, or that food?’ or ‘What is the best thing I can do to eat more healthily?’   This is our opinion…

Every living organism on this planet can somehow get everything it needs and be fit and healthy enough to fight for its very survival, by eating a diet made up of whole, natural, unprocessed food.

  • Cheetahs can run faster than anything on the planet by eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods.
  • Gorillas grow immensely big and strong by eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods.
  • Wildebeest migrate huge distances by eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods.
  • Humans…have increasingly chronic medical challenges including obesity, higher blood pressure, heart disease, greater risk of diabetes and stroke (to name a few) by eating less whole, natural, unprocessed foods and lots more processed, manufactured junk.

A very simple lesson to learn from nature to eat more healthily is: 

“If it looks like it has come straight from a farm, it’s probably good for you. 

If it looks like it has come straight out of a factory, it’s probably not good for you”.

Eating less processed, manufactured junk food reduces the amount of excess, nutrient-low calories and salt, sugar, bad fats and additives you have.

Eating more whole, natural and unprocessed foods means you will be getting all the necessary energy and nutrients you need to fuel your body and thrive. For example eating more

  • Fruit and veg
  • Nuts and pulses
  • Meat and fish

A simple rule to follow to improve your healthy eating is to make sure the bulk of every meal/snack is made of whole, unprocessed, natural food that looks like it has come straight from a farm…and you won’t go far wrong.

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Learning Barriers – Where do you get stuck?

Learning Barriers – Where do you get stuck?

Learning is all about personal exploration and growth. There are so many opportunities to learn and yet it is often easy to take this for granted, give up when we get stuck or not even try for fear of failing. Sometimes we just don’t recognise the chance to learn or we discount an experience as irrelevant. 

However, learning and its benefits are a fundamental part of wellbeing and therefore overcoming barriers and making the most of all learning opportunities makes sense. 

True learning is acquiring knowledge/awareness/skills and using or applying it. This second part, the ‘so what’ of learning, is what makes the difference to our growth and development, and, in my experience, this is often the hardest part.  (Why Greater Awareness is Essential for Your Wellbeing explains how you can raise awareness and shares a simple reflective model ‘What, So What, Now What’ to help you).

This article explores where you might get stuck in your learning so you can make the most of your opportunities to learn.

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The stories we are told have an effect

The stories we are told have an effect

I’m in the minority of people my age, I don’t have any kids. I’ve never had to rear them, house train them or release them into the wild (but in case you didn't notice, I have had a fair amount of experience with animals…)

Despite this lack of experience with kids, I do know that the things they are told and the stories they hear play a big part on their development. I know it’s wrong to keep saying to them, things like:

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The Stages of Learning

4 stages of learning

The Stages of Learning is a model we talked about in Why Awareness is Essential for Your Wellbeing. It is a simple and effective model/theory explaining the different stages of learning experienced when approaching any new skill or technique. It applies to all learning and growth, from trying something completely new, to changing a habit, such as a new healthy eating regime.

Let’s look at this in a bit more detail so you can add it to your toolkit to help you when facing a new challenge.

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Why Greater Awareness is Essential for Your Wellbeing

Ice berg with the tip showing representing conscious mind and the mass under the water line representing subconscious mind
Awareness require effort to become conscious thought

Looking after your physical and mental health and wellbeing requires constant attention. There are many factors that impact your wellbeing which fluctuates in response to your life circumstances and experiences.  In the Eat, Move, Be Happy Mental Health series, we explore the link between our physical and mental health more, introducing self-awareness as an important tool in helping you develop good health and wellbeing practise. See How Healthy are You? and How can we fight the stigma of mental illness?  In Eat Better we also talk about the essential role of regular debrief time in helping you develop healthier eating habits.

When something is worth valuing, it also requires effort and energy to build and maintain. For example, people accept that relationships, be they with a partner, friendships or colleagues, need attention to be at their best.  When learning something new or developing a skill, you expect to spend time to understand the theory and knowledge required and then to practise the steps in how to apply the knowledge or skill in the right way. You are prepared for this to take time, with some repetition, mistakes and for this not to go without a hitch or two along the way. No-one expects to be able to jump behind the wheel of a car for the first time and be an expert driver.

Maintaining optimum health and wellbeing is no different. It doesn’t happen by magic and requires energy and effort to understand your personal complexities and nuances that help you be the best you can be. You know yourself better than other people do.

This module looks at ways you can help yourself develop greater awareness of your health and wellbeing and channel your energy and effort more effectively.

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Is the Water Getting Too Hot to Jump Out?

cartoon frog leaping away from a pot of boiling water

I came across a story several years ago that I refer to frequently, including once in an interview. The boiling frog phenomenon describes how, if a frog is placed in a pot of boiling water it will immediately jump out, the water is too hot. However if a frog is placed in a pot of cool water and a low heat applied, the immediate surrounding is comfortable so the frog stays in the water.  Eventually the water heats up and gets too hot for the frog to jump out.  

I know that is a pretty grim analogy, however how often have you found yourself in a situation where you suddenly feel totally overwhelmed, helpless and maybe even hopeless? When you find yourself in this place, not only do you not know what to do for the best, but often you do not have the energy to do it. 

It is likely that your feeling of being overwhelmed increased gradually, much like the temperature of the water for the frog.  By the time you recognised the potential impact of the situation on your stress levels, it was too late to avoid that feeling of lack of control and hopelessness. Not a good place to be and a sign of chronic stress, or a long-lasting exposure to stressful triggers. 

Not all stress is bad for us. Some stress can be motivational, for example physical training is a way of putting your body under acute stress to challenge it to improve in either fitness or strength. Acute stress responses are also the body’s way for humans and mammals to prepare for fight or flight, an evolutionary survival trait. 

The trick is to be able to pay attention to the temperature of the water isn’t it? At Eat, Move, Be Happy we also think it is about paying attention to what is causing the water to heat up in the first place and having ways of cooling the water down, or of jumping out, before it gets too hot to handle.   

This article looks at ways you can improve awareness of your stress levels and what triggers an increase in stress for you. It also explores why some people appear to be able to cope better than others with more stress and ways you can be more effective at maintaining more acceptable stress levels more of the time. 

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