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Why SLEEPING issues increase injury, weight gain & disease

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 19 December 2014
Hits: 6309

Most of us spend nearly a third of our life sleeping. Yet for many people they do not get enough quality sleep and their health pays a big price for it. As a Personal Trainer for over 15 years now, the number one goal most people want is nine times out of ten to lose some weight and get fit. More recently it has been to overcome some chronic pain or injury, and only then can their fitness goals be tackled. And for many Personal Trainers, physical therapists the most obvious solutions to these goals is to start exercising more and eat better. And why I agree with this too and highly recommend it I have found this is only addressing a part of the puzzle. And I also believe that people must be very careful with how hard an exercise program is if they are not getting enough sleep. The areas that are often neglected when starting a health and fitness program, is reducing a person's Stress, which I have talked about many times before, (see our article on why people have trouble losing weight even when they exercise) and also improving the amount and quality of sleep.

Sleep Is Vital To Our Health

Have you ever had the experience of not having enough sleep and having to go to work the next day and do a very important task or you just had lot of things on your plate?

How tiring was that to do? And how drained were you by the end of the day? Do you feel like doing some sort of hard core Crossfit style smashing it workout? You don't because you have no energy.

Imagine feeling like that all the time? Well that is what some of the clients we see do on a regular basis which prevents them from getting results. Why? Many reasons for this but firstly stress from work, stress from family obligations, lack of exercise, too much exercise, poor nutrition and lifestyle habits just to name a few.

People who are excessively overweight bordering on obese usually struggle to sleep well due to the amount of inflammation in their body. Breathing problems will arise, sleep apnea for example. This person will usually find diets and exercise programs very difficult to do and often give up after a few months. Not because they are lazy, lacking desire or motivation but because their body does not have enough reserves to cope with the massive changes being forced onto their body. People must understand the value of sleep and how we need it to rest and repair from all of the things we do to ourselves. Many people think we shut down at night but it is the exact opposite, the body's digestive system is in hyperdrive at night as is all of the cells to repair damages caused in the day.

So how do you go about improving this if you are currently struggling? This article will give you a glimpse at our one part of our Metabolic Typing Weight Loss program and our Rehabilitation assessment process at No Regrets Personal Training and how we look into the whole package when assessing our clients and determining where to start and what to do with each person. This is why our programs work, and why many other fitness programs fail. If you would like a Free Assessment fill in the form at the bottom of the page.

What Happens When We Sleep?

Our bodies are designed to follow the movement of the sun, moon and the earth. This is called circadian rhythm. When light stimulates our skin or eyes our hormonal system thinks it is daylight and releases a stress hormone called cortisol which is activated to prepare our body for movement, work and whatever we need to do in daily life. Basically cortisol is needed to wake you up, and is meant to decrease as the sun goes down so your body can prepare for activation of the growth hormones called melatonin to be released to allow the body to repair.

The cycle for physical repair is between 10pm and 2am, psychological repair between 2am and 6am. The person who chooses to stay up late watching TV, playing video games or doing work on the computer late and go to bed at midnight will now have only 2 hours of your physical repair time!!  This over production of cortisol, and not enough time to repair the damage from the day, is really bad for anybody trying to overcome injury or chronic pain. The body needs as much repair time as it can get to reduce the inflammation. Remember what I said at the start, " how many therapists ask you what your sleep is like at night"? Hardly any, but think about for a second, you need to repair something that is broken and this is done when you sleep. If you are not getting to bed on time or getting enough quality sleep it will not repair very quickly.

I would suggest reading the book by Paul Chek called "How To Eat Move and Be Healthy" where he explains in great detail this process and gives many good tips and advice on how to improve your sleep.

But what happens if you are good, and do go to bed at 10pm but wake up in the middle of the night, usually about 2am? This is a classic case of your body under too much stress and the cortisol levels rising due to excess inflammation, and it now thinks it is daylight and time to get up before you get eaten by an animal. Too much stress is always the cause. Remember stress comes in many forms, not just mental stress like most people think. Nutrition and exercise are also stressful which is why if you over-train you will not sleep very well and are a good candidate to get injured or very sick.

How To Improve Your Sleep

So in order to restore your normal rhythm you have to adopt a method of keeping the body cool, avoiding bright lights to make the body believe it is night time and to release melatonin to make you sleepy. Foods such as fat and protein will promote sleep as they slow your system down which in turn will make you cool, whereas carbohydrates and stimulants like coffee & alcohol speed you up and ultimately make you hot! If you go to bed without enough protein and fat because you are avoiding fat to lose weight you will not be able to maintain your blood sugar levels throughout the night, so your body has to elevate cortisol to wake you up to eat! Waking up in the middle of the night for prolonged periods of time is signs of adrenal fatigue. A person with adrenal fatigue will be set up for injuries, illness, which then leads to depression, chronic fatigue, which then leads to diseases, which then leads to....

What if you are eating good foods an exercising but your problems are all in your head, you can turn your thinking off? I have had great success teaching clients how to try and re-pattern their subconscious mind. I like to start with simple things that anyone can do with not much effort. And the two easiest things I have used before are from 2 books that provide excellent tools and exercises. In fact they are so effective, every time I read them I fall asleep!

The first book is called “I Can Make You Sleep” By Paul McKenna.

In this book he provides you with very simple exercises, and how to create simple changes in your thinking and behaviour to reap huge rewards on your sleep. But even better than that he provides a self hypnosis CD you can use to help reset the body's natural sleep mechanism so that you will find it easier to get deep, restful sleep and have more energy to achieve great Health & Fitness results. I get every one of our clients who have sleep problems to download this to their IPOD and designate 20 minutes each day lying quietly with their headphones. Within weeks people start to see improvement from this alone! Doing this everyday along with keeping cool, avoiding coffee etc will have dramatic results.

The other book I found helped some clients in the past, more so with reducing stress and “Stinking Thinking” before going to bed is called “The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind” by Dr Joseph Murphy.


In this book he provides you with countless revolutionary mind focusing techniques and methods to change the way you think and reset your subconscious mind. Very similar to Paul McKenna's book but with some more in depth and easy to implement exercises that have worked wonders with people before. If you are having trouble sleeping now order these books today on Amazon and start doing the exercises straight away. I promise you wont be let down.

You Must Exercise

We all know exercise is great for our health but our choice of exercise is very important if we are trying to restore health. Fitness is not a priority here.

This is where many over-enthusiastic people and personal trainers get it wrong, especially with injury and also with people obese or suffering with severe stress issues. Believing that they just have to stop eating too much and exercise crazily is just plain stupid! This will ruin this type of client. I have seen this first hand many times and see it happen everyday in almost any large gym or boot-camp type training facility. The choice of exercise needs to encourage growth and repair. And this can only be done via strength training. Crossfit is not a good idea. This is destructive and dangerous for this type of person. Cardio training even worse. Walking is a great form of exercise but is something we should be doing anyway so this is just getting you to zero.

You will need to do more than walking to get back to your optimal level of health.

Read this article Best Choice Of Exercise For Improved Health to see more about the choice of exercise.

Nose Breathing Is Essential For The Body To Heal Itself

Another common factor amongst poor sleepers, overweight people and chronic stress sufferers is poor breathing. Have you ever woken up with a dry mouth and realised you were breathing through your mouth? Why did you wake up? When your body senses it has a dry mouth it associates this with stress, just like when you do exercise and the excessive breathing creates a dry mouth. Just like when you are very stressed you breathe faster and most likely through your mouth. The opposite of a dry mouth is a moist mouth, and the opposite of mouth breathing is nose breathing.

The opposite of stress is relaxed. It makes perfect sense doesn't it? This is the laws of Yin and Yang in Chinese medicine. Poor breathing and more specifically mouth breathing creates so many problems I don't have a big enough page here to list them. To understand nose breathing better I suggest reading about Buteyko Breathing and learning how to do this. Especially if you have sleep apnea

Watch a video I did some time ago from a workshop on Breathing to see more of the essential points.

Here are some important facts about breathing so can fully understand why it is essential for a good night sleep.

  • If you stop breathing you will have about 3- 4 minutes before you are dead!
  • Breathing maintains your acid-alkaline or pH balance
  • Helps in the breakdown of food ( metabolism )
  • Greatly influences your posture
  • Acts as a key component for your stabilizer system
  • Generates Cerebral Fluid
  • Controls emotions

Breathing provides oxygen for cellular metabolism & removes the waste product Carbon Dioxide. Both Overeating and processed foods cause you to breathe more, to create more CO2, to oxidise the excessive fats and carbohydrates eaten. When your breathing rate or rhythm is faulty the acid / alkaline balance is disrupted. Any shift in PH balance will stress your entire physiology which is linked to your psychology! Most common symptom of faulty breathing is …….. FATIGUE! Nitric oxide is found in your nose, so when you breathe through your nose, you carry a small portion of the gas into your lungs.

Nitric oxide plays a significant role in homeostasis, or the maintaining of balance within your body. (remember the PH balance!) Your nostrils have a smaller entry than your mouth which creates resistance resulting in smaller breathing volume along with calm and quieter breathing. Mouth breathing creates a dry mouth, bacteria and if you are doing this while asleep will prevent you from sleeping and cause all sorts of side effects. Tape on mouth will help this as explained in the Buteyko Breathing.

The Top Tips For Better Sleep

  1. Keep your bedroom cool and dark
  2. Avoid bright lights, TV & computers after 8pm
  3. Be in bed by 1030pm at the latest
  4. Practice Nose Breathing
  5. Read the Paul McKenna book "I Can Make You Sleep"
  6. Listen to the Hypnosis CD every day to reset your subconscious
  7. Eat something high in protein or fat about an hour before going to bed
  8. Avoid coffee, alcohol and sugar
  9. Exercise is essential - especially weight training
  10. Eat well balanced diet of vegetables and protein

Do You Need More Help?

I know there is a ton of information I have not included in this article with regards to how to improving your health with exercise and nutrition and finally being able to restore a good sleeping pattern. If you follow the links throughout the article they will take you to detailed articles relating to these questions. I also suggest to get a copy of our detailed report below that features everything you need to know about improving the immune system, heart health, and lung capacity. I created this report in September 2020 to include ALL of the relevant information relating to exercise and nutrition for improving our health. This is not about fitness but about improving your overall health vitality. Click here to download your instant PDF copy. 

If you would like to know more about our Health & Fitness programs please click the image below and I will get back to you within 24 hours to arrange a free consultation and assessment.

About The Author

Nick Jack is owner of No Regrets Personal Training and has over 15 years’ experience as a qualified Personal Trainer, Level 2 Rehabilitation trainer, CHEK practitioner, and Level 2 Sports conditioning Coach. Based in Melbourne Australia he specialises in providing solutions to injury and health problems for people of all ages using the latest methods of assessing movement and corrective exercise.


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