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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Working out to improve your sleep cycle

I have a terrible predisposition for being a night owl and a workaholic. And with a number of websites to either administer, build, expand, or promote, its easy for me to fall into the habit of being chained to a desk, chair, and monitor, lasting into the wee hours of each and every night.

It goes without that saying that that's not healthy. And it's not healthy for a number of reasons. It's sedentary. It's a bit boring. And it leads to chronic sleep deprivation and a sleep cycle that's off kilter with the rest of the world.

Here's a good fix. Or, at least, my fix. Late night workouts. I find that heading to the gym around eight o'clock at night and getting in some cardio, plus some good old fashioned anaerobic exercise (a.k.a. bodybuilding) does the trick.

At the end of my workout routine, I feel relaxed and tranquil. Competely mellow. And so much of the muscular tension that I've developed throughout the day (which I now see a massage therapist to deal with) tends to just dissipate, lost in a nice rush of endorphin release.

I told my workout partner this evening that endorphins are chemical substances that are classified as neurotransmitters, like serotonin, and they are natural opiates. The feeling you get from their release is really unmatched by any external substance a person might choose to indulge in (and probably shouldn't, of course).

What do I do at the end of a late day workout? Perhaps something I shouldn't do. I grab something to eat, because weight lifting just has that effect on me. It makes me hungry. And for good reason. Your muscles want to build, grow, become stronger. And to do that, they need fuel.

Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with a late night meal, following a workout, as long as it leans more toward protein and is a fairly small meal that's characteristically low carb. If you'll notice, many individuals who have trouble with indigestion following an evening meal have loaded up on carbohydrate -rich food. Italian dinners are a great example of that.

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