September, 2013 | The Cycle Project

Archive for September, 2013

Sep
09
2013
0

The Perfect Nap: Sleeping Is a Mix of Art and Science

Why Some Snoozing Sessions Leave You Groggy While Others Help

 

There’s an art to napping.

Studies have found different benefits—and detriments—to a nap’s timing, duration and even effect on different people, depending on one’s age and possibly genetics.

“Naps are actually more complicated than we realize,” said David Dinges, a sleep scientist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “You have to be deliberative about when you’re going to nap, how long you’re going to nap and if you’re trying to use the nap relative to work or what you have coming up.”

For a quick boost of alertness, experts say a 10-to-20-minute power nap is adequate.

A snooze on the couch on a Sunday afternoon may seem like the perfect way for a responsible adult to unplug. But at a time when roughly one-third of people report not getting enough sleep, more naps, albeit short ones, might make for a more functional workforce, researchers say.

How Long to Nap

Naps

Sleep experts break sleep down into several stages, which the brain cycles through roughly every 90 to 120 minutes. These stages are broadly characterized into non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. NREM is further broken down into stage one and two, which are considered light and intermediate sleep, followed by slow-wave sleep. Awakening from slow-wave sleep, the deepest kind, results in what doctors call sleep inertia or sleep drunkenness: that groggy feeling that can take awhile to shake off. Finally, there’s REM sleep, often associated with dreaming.

Sara Mednick, an assistant psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, said the most useful nap depends on what the napper needs.

For a quick boost of alertness, experts say a 10-to-20-minute power nap is adequate for getting back to work in a pinch.

For cognitive memory processing, however, a 60-minute nap may do more good, Dr. Mednick said. Including slow-wave sleep helps with remembering facts, places and faces. The downside: some grogginess upon waking.

Finally, the 90-minute nap will likely involve a full cycle of sleep, which aids creativity and emotional and procedural memory, such as learning how to ride a bike. Waking up after REM sleep usually means a minimal amount of sleep inertia, Dr. Mednick said.

Experts say the ideal time to nap is generally between the hours of 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Napping later in the day could interfere with nighttime sleep.

The body’s circadian rhythms help people to expect to be awake in the morning and early in the night. “So if you take naps when your brain doesn’t expect to be sleeping, you feel kind of thrown off,” contributing to the sleep inertia effect, said Rafael Pelayo, a clinical professor at Stanford University School of Medicine’s Sleep Medicine Center.

A telltale sign of being very sleep-deprived, he said, is dreaming during a short nap. “Definitely in a 20-minute nap you should not be dreaming,” he said.

Ilene Rosen, an associate professor of clinical medicine at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, said the ideal duration of a nap is still being debated, but generally speaking the “10-to-20-minute nap is really the optimal time in terms of bang for your buck.”

Leon Lack, a psychology professor at Flinders University in Australia, found in a 2006 study in the journal Sleep that among shorter breaks, 10-minute naps packed the most punch.

The study compared naps ranging from 30 seconds to 30 minutes, testing 24 participants at each of several intervals. After each nap the individuals were tested on a variety of mental-processing tasks. The sharpness of the 10-minute nappers became apparent “right away,” Dr. Lack said, and remained apparent for about two to 2 1/2 hours.

Those who took 20- and 30-minute naps tended to feel groggy immediately after the nap for up to about 30 minutes. From there, they showed mental sharpness similar to what researchers saw from the 10-minute nappers, with that sharpness lasting a bit longer.

Jonathan Brandl is a Newton, Mass.-based consultant who works from home. Up at 5 a.m. to hit the gym, he finds himself fading around 2 p.m. His solution is a fast snooze in a comfy chair in his den. His trick for waking up: He holds a pen or pencil in his hand, which usually falls about 10 to 15 minutes into his nap, waking him up.

“After the nap, I feel totally refreshed and then power through the rest of the day,” the 56-year-old Mr. Brandl said.

Though napping at work often remains taboo, experts say growing scientific evidence of its benefits has led select workplaces to accept it.

Christopher Lindholst, chief executive and co-founder of New York-based MetroNaps, has installed specially designed sleeping pods for Google, Huffington Post, an Iowa construction company and the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team. The chairs retail for $8,995 to $12,985.

The 60-minute nap may not be kosher in most workplaces, but it also has its pluses.

In a 2012 study in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, researchers split 36 college-aged students into three groups. Each group learned a memory task, pairing words on a screen with a sound. Afterward, one group had 60 minutes to nap, another 10 minutes. The final group didn’t sleep.

Upon retesting, the napping groups fared better, as expected, said Sara Alger, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Notre Dame.

More interesting, she noted, was that on further testing, including a week later, the 60-minute group performed far better than the 10-minute group, which now performed as poorly as the non-napping group. The researchers concluded that slow-wave sleep—only experienced by the 60-minute nappers—is necessary for memory consolidation.

Researchers continue to explore why some individuals don’t seem to benefit from naps. Dr. Mednick said ongoing studies are looking at potential genetic differences between habitual and nonhabitual nappers.

Kimberly Cote, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, said individuals who don’t normally nap tend to slip into the deep stages of sleep more quickly than those who do. Studies have found through monitoring brain waves that regular nappers are good at maintaining a light sleep when they nap and show better performance improvements than their non-napping counterparts.

“We’re not sure what those individual differences are,” she said, “if that’s something that they’ve learned to do over time or if there’s something biologically different that allows them to nap like that.”

Another trick to waking up perky after a short nap is to drink a cup of coffee before sleeping. Caffeine won’t hurt such a short break and should lessen the effect of sleep inertia.

Dr. Dinges recommends sleeping partially upright to make it easier to wake up. Studies, he said, have found that not lying totally flat results in avoiding falling into a deeper sleep.

“A lot of people say, ‘I only need four hours of sleep a night.’ There’s a few of them around but not very many,” he said.

Source

 

 

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Sep
06
2013
0

No Bake Banana Chocolate Protein Bars

Now you can quickly and easily make your own protein bars at home! This no bake recipe takes high quality protein powder and combines it with wholesome, real food ingredients to create a delicious protein bar to power your day. Store these in your freezer, then simply allow to defrost for a few minutes before enjoying.

Serving: 10

Here’s what you need…

  • 1 cup vanilla protein powder
  • /4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water (and more if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons mini chocolate chips
  • 1 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  1. In a medium bowl combine the protein powder and coconut flour.
  2. In another medium bowl mash the bananas. Add the coconut milk, water and vanilla, mix until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined. If the batter is dry then add a few more drops of water. Mix in the chocolate chips.
  3. Line a freezer-safe plate with wax paper. Form the dough into 10 bars. Place on the wax paper and put in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  4. In a double boiler over medium-low heat (make your own by placing a small saucepan directly in a skillet that has few Tablespoons of water) melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil.
  5. Remove the bars from the freezer and drizzle or dip in the melted dark chocolate. Return to the freezer for 10 minutes until the chocolate has hardened.

Nutritional Analysis: One bar equals: 183 calories, 6g fat, 11g carbohydrate, 99mg sodium, 5g fiber, and 18g protein

 

Elite Physiques & The Cycle Project

Elite Physiques & The Cycle Project

Sep
04
2013
0

What Motivates YOU?

The success or failure of your fitness routine heavily depends on the intensity of your motivation. In order to stick with it, even when it’s hard and you’re tired, you’ll need to fixate your mind on a single motivating thought. This may be a mental picture of what you will look like in your skinny jeans, the thought of how relieved you’ll be when the doctor give you a clean bill of health, or the reaction that your friends and family will give once you reveal the new you.

Discover what motivated you the most then direct your focus there. Bring this thought to mind whenever you feel like giving up and going back to your unhealthy lifestyle.

 

Elite Physiques & The Cycle Project

Elite Physiques & The Cycle Project

Sep
02
2013
0

7 Awesome Reasons To Be FIT

I spend a lot of time talking about what it’s like to be working towards your fat loss goal, with your perfect body somewhere off in the distance.

Today I’m going to switch perspectives and turn the focus onto how it feels to BE at your ideal weight.

In addition to getting you pumped up and motivated to work even more diligently towards your goal, studies have shown that those who spend time visualizing the accomplishment of their goal have a higher success rate in actually getting there.

So if you are still working towards your goal then sit back and let the following 7 Awesome Reasons to be FIT really sink into your mind. Visualize the following as being a part of your reality.

Awesome Reason To Be FIT #1: You Always Look Great
When you are at your ideal weight clothes look and feel amazing. Every. Single. Day. Gone are the days of looking for ways to cover your ‘problem’ areas because even those areas look great. Friends, family members and co-workers tell you how fantastic you look and that you’ve never looked better.

Awesome Reason To Be FIT #2: Your Confidence Is High
The act of accomplishing any worthwhile goal is enough to seriously boost your confidence, and this is even more apparent when reaching a fitness goal. When your body goes through a transformation there’s no hiding it. You are tighter, leaner and more attractive. You stand straighter, walk taller and exude a genuine confidence that can’t be missed.

Awesome Reason To Be FIT #3: You Have Lots Of Energy
Before you met your fat loss goal, getting off the couch was a challenge…one that you didn’t always win. Once you became fit, new surges of energy course through your veins. You thrive on motion and activities that used to tire you out now leave you energized.

Awesome Reason To Be FIT #4: You Are Strong
The life of a truly fit person knows no limits! In your free time you hike, bike, walk, pick up new hobbies and play with the kids. Picking up items that used to feel heavy is now a breeze as your functionality for daily tasks has never been stronger. Gone are the days when you’d tell yourself, “I can’t do that. I’m not strong enough.”

Awesome Reason To Be FIT #5: You Have No Health Worries
You’ll never forget the look on your doctor’s face when examining your transformed body. Gone is the lecture about the many risks of weight-related ailments. Those days are behind you. Your healthy, strong thriving body is health-worry-free.

Awesome Reason To Be FIT #6: You No Longer Have Weight To Lose
How long have you been trying to lose the fat and get down to your ideal weight? Long time, right? In all that time your fat loss goal has been a giant monkey on your back – always in the back of your mind, always weighing you down.

Guess what? Poof! That giant monkey disappeared the day you reached your goal weight an in its place came a sweet, carefree peace of mind.

Awesome Reason To Be FIT #7: You Are Able To Enjoy Life
Once you transformed your body, life got decidedly more fun and exciting. You never knew how much your weight had held you back from excitement and adventure until the day that burden was lifted. You now enjoy life with carefree abandon – the way you were designed to.

If these 7 Awesome Reasons To Be FIT have lit a fire under you to reach your goal weight once and for all then reach out to me right now. Call or email and I’ll have you sailing toward your FIT body in no time.

But don’t wait—to do so would be to risk losing the motivation that you feel right now. I’m here to help you transform your body with a specialized fitness plan that’s designed to quickly get you to FIT.

What are you waiting for? Begin your body transformation today!

 

Elite Physiques & The Cycle Project

Elite Physiques & The Cycle Project