Volume 1: SLEEP
Getting a good nights sleep sometimes seems impossible; work deadlines, noisy neighbors, your best friend insomnia outstaying their party season welcome… But good sleep is essential to the upkeep of our mental and physical health and wellbeing.
Sleep is the body’s natural healer, and is involved in the growth and repair of our heart and blood vessels. Lack of sleep has been linked to cardiovascular disease, high levels of stress, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. While you sleep you consolidate memories from your short term into your long term memory, kind of like a computer program backs up data, the brain uses sleep to update and download.
Your sleep provides the body much needed rest so that we function better throughout the day, it improves brain function, relieves stress, increases focus…we could go on and on.
Also, sleeping is just really, pretty great. Snuggling down between clean sheets, blanket yanked up to the chin, pillow soft as a cloud…let the ZZZ’s commence! But if this seems more like a pipe dream than a waking reality, here are 3 ways to promote healthy, deep sleep.
Solar Power Charge
Especially in winter, a lot of us wake in the dark, go to work in the dark, sit in starkly lit offices then come home after the sun has long set. Buzzkill.
Getting enough light might not seem like it would make a difference to our sleep patterns, right? But it affects us in lots of weird and wonderful ways, including having a huge effect on our sleep.
Light is essential to help regulate our circadian rhythm, otherwise known as our natural body clock, which influences our sleep patterns. To make sure we’re getting enough of those delicious rays, go outside during daytime to boost your vitamin D and to help regulate your circadian rhythm, which will allow you to feel awake and tired when you’re ‘supposed’ to.
TIP: Best places to get outside in Busan? Well, honestly, there are so many places to step outside and enjoy the rays, and simply walking down any side street, alley or park lane will have benefit and charm. But if you’re looking for inspiration, check out the top 15 sightseeing spots for 2019 and take your pick!
No Tech 60
Tech is cool. And convenient. And did we say cool? But as we know it has its cons as well. These convenient-cool devices emit blue light, which disrupts the production of melatonin in the pineal gland. Melatonin helps control your daily wake and sleep cycles, so using smart phones, tablets and other devices before bedtime suppresses melatonin production causing the brain to stay switched on.
According to sleep.org: “Typically, melatonin levels start to rise in the mid-to-late evening, after the sun has set. They stay elevated for most of the night while you’re in the dark. Then, they drop in the early morning as the sun rises, causing you to awaken.”
In light of this (pun intended) put your phone far, far away at least 60 mins before you sleep to allow the natural production of melatonin to occur, encouraging a better nights sleep. In fact make that all tech. Read a book, meditate, take a warm shower, go for a stroll etc. Just stay off that screen!
TIP: In Busan we’re lucky enough to have safe streets with parks, mountains and trees around every turn. Why not take a before-bedtime stroll around your local neighborhood and discover something new about the city.
Ok, ok – maybe not 5am, but getting up out of bed and exercising in the morning has been found to be more effective than at any other time of the day. How about 7? By getting in a mini workout in the morning you can kill it while everyone else slams the snooze button. Suckers!
If we kickstart our metabolism and the Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) process early doors, we continue to burn calories long after our workout ends, we improve sleep rhythms, we jumpstart the brain and produce lots of good hormones, too. This all together leads us to a better sleep at night, when the body naturally starts to produce melatonin earlier in the evening and we ‘cool down’ from the hustle and bustle of the day.
Keep in mind that EPOC is influenced by workout intensity rather than duration, which means your workout doesn’t need to be a 2 hour session, rather the minimum effective dose – aka the smallest amount required to produce a desired outcome – will kickstart your metabolism and will keep you burning calories well into the day as well as leading to a better sleep at night.
No slogging away for hours on the dreadmill; a morning quickie does the trick. Btw, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been found most effective in stimulating the EPOC effect.
Plus getting up early to workout builds self discipline, self esteem and means that once you’re done with your workout, you’ve already won the day. Add to that all the other benefits of exercise, you’ve got 2019 in the bag.
TIP: You don’t need a gym membership; there are plenty of outdoor community gyms and exercise spaces in the city. Head down to the Suyoung River biking and walking paths, over to the Hwamyeong eco park for breathtaking morning views, or around Oncheon Stream to utilize the communal equipment.
Basically…get some sunlight, don’t play Anipang until 1am, and do 4 minutes of Tabata on Youtube in the morning, and you’ll be on your way to better sleep and better overall wellbeing long into 2019.