How to get back on track with your exercise and sleep schedule after a vacation.

We all love summer, and really any vacation time, it’s a blend of possibilities: picnics in the park, road trips, camping and weekends at the cottage. As a vacation comes to an end, we tend to agree it went by way too fast.

With the reality of fall approaching, getting back to the regular school or work routine can seem overwhelming. The demands of everyday life can be a recipe for an energy disaster, causing a vicious cycle of fatigue.

Moreover, poor sleep patterns can cause unhealthy cravings. The good news is that working out, getting enough sleep and supporting your healthy habits with the right natural health products will get you back on track before you think about hibernating for winter.

Exercise

After a vacation of lazy days and long nights, returning to your exercise routine can feel like scaling Mount Everest. But it might be just what you need.

Exercise increases blood flow, saturating the brain with oxygen. When we’re active, our bodies release endorphins, which reduce stress and stimulate thegrowth of new nerve cells. According to a Harvard study, moving your body can also prompt the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, two stress hormones that, in modest amounts, can boost your attentiveness.

Further research shows that low and moderate exercise, even something as simple as a 10-minute walk, boosts perceived energy levels as long as two hours afterwards. These benefits have been shown to outstrip the energy increase provided by a snack. Start small if you’re suffering from the mid-afternoon slump. If you’re looking to increase your activity at work, try making your next meeting more stimulating by walking and talking around the office.

If you’re looking for that extra boost in your workout, try adding a greens sup- plement to your routine. Many green supplements provide a rich source of powdered vegetables, wheat grass, barley grass, chlorophyll and sea vegetables that are packed with fibre, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. Often containing B vitamins, these easy-to-add supplements can help with the body’s normal energy metabolism. They help break down fats and protein to make the nutrients our brains crave so much. Throw it in a post-workout smoothie for a nutritious boost!

The other benefit of stretching those legs and pushing yourself to get your body moving is that it’s a sure-fire way to achieve a better rest at night. Any work is mentally exhausting, whether it’s working away in front of a keyboard or chasing the kids after school. However, physical exertion has been shown to help people achieve a deeper, more fulfilling sleep and according to research, it helps you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.

Sleep

Getting enough sleep for optimal energy levels is a no-brainer. In fact, when Canadians were asked about key factors that affect their health and happiness, three-quarters (73%) said lack of sleep was an important factor.

The exact way sleep works and how it rejuvenates us, however, remains a mystery. When it comes to impacting dietary choices, sleep deprivation alters a hunger hormone called leptin, which increases our desire to indulge in sugary and salty foods. This has significant effects on not only our nutrient intake, but it can also impact feelings of fullness and satiety, disrupting the normal rhythms in our meal patterns.

When it comes to getting a better sleep, there are some tips you can try: don’t eat right before bed; and reduce your exposure to screens and other bright lights during the evening hours. Some supplements have shown promising results in helping to carry you off to dreamland.

Melatonin is a popular natural health product shown to help with sleep. It
is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that contributes to calibrating our internal body clock. Jet lag is thought to be caused by off-time rises and falls of this hormone. Supplementation with melatonin has been shown to increase total sleep time and reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.

Another option is L-theanine. This amino acid, naturally found in green tea, promotes relaxation by reducing anxiety. L-theanine has actually been shown to impact alpha-waves in the brain, contributing to heightened relaxation, which may result in an improvement in sleep quality.

It’s always important to remember that if you do suffer from sleep problems, speak with your health care practitioner about which solutions might be right for you.

More Inspiration: You might also find this article on using chocolate with meditation inspiring!

Author: Michelle W. Book is the in-house Holistic Nutritionist and spokesperson for the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA), an organization dedicated to educating Canadians about the benefits of natural health and organic products. As a busy professional with a young family, Michelle strives to spread the message that small changes in our everyday lives can have significant, positive effects on our health.

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