The Importance of Sleep, Nutrition, and Exercise

Many students today ask why they are so tired all the time. It also seems that people in college become more stressed out either because of grades or because of work.  All people need to do is get the right amount of sleep, eating well, and exercise in order to feel better about themselves and feel good in general.  This is not a short process.  Most experts say that it takes about twelve weeks in order to see results.  But, it is guaranteed that after that duration of time one will see a vast improvement in oneself.

Sleep is something that most people take for granted. It is the one thing that people are willing to compromise even more then food or money.  It is estimated that between 40 to 60 million Americans are sleep deprived. Different people can get by with different amounts of sleep.  There are some that can survive the next day with only a few hours. Then there are always others who cannot be called after 9:00 because they need those good solid 10 hours. The average person actually needs anywhere from between 7-9 hours a night.  Why does one need sleep? When human bodies do not get enough sleep they tend to lose strength, the immune system decreases, and there is an increase in blood pressure. As students, it can effect concentration, memory, logical reasoning, and ability to do math.

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Now that the problem is known here is how to fix it.  Dr. Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, focuses on consistency. The body needs consistency. This can be fulfilled by simply going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every day. But, it is important to note that making up for lost sleep on the weekends is a big negative.  It is preferable that if one likes to sleep on the weekends wake up at the same time Saturday and Sunday. When going to bed it should take about 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep. If a half-hour has gone by and one still is not asleep one should get up and do something relaxing  (i.e. take a warm bath, read, watch TV, etc.). Rita Mattson, a Certified Personal Trainer and Stress Management Counselor, makes the suggestion of drinking warm milk before retiring to bed because milk contains a high dosage of L-tryptophan which is a natural sedative. Sleep is just as important as any other part of taking good care of ones self.

Another key aspect is nutrition. Nutrition is the main thing that keeps the body working. So, if one wants to keep the body working at a certain pace it needs to be fed.  But, one needs to know the right foods.  Think of the body as a car. People drive cars every day and some people are fast drivers who like to go above the speed limit and others are slower. Nevertheless, all cars need gas sooner or later. So, the owner of the car takes the car to the gas station and now he needs to make a decision on which type of gas to put into the car.  He knows that he cannot use diesel because his car cannot run on diesel gas.

The choices are now unleaded, super unleaded, or supreme unleaded.  Every car driver knows that the better quality of the gas the better the car drives and performs.  Bodies are the same way. Know not to use “diesel.” But, when it comes to the other “gases” one has to think what does the “car” need to perform its best.  For that reason, there is the nutrition pyramid to tell us what our bodies need the most and the least of.  It is important to incorporate refined carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables, and fruit to ones diet everyday to ensure that the body works. The body also needs some sugar and fat. Today, people focus on “non-fat” foods.  Sometimes these are not good for the body because in order to make something natural fat-free you have to put in chemicals to alter the original make up of the food.  Chemicals are difficult for you body to digest therefore in a case like this it is best to go natural.  Another reason that one needs to eat some fat and sugar is because this is what the body burns when you exercise.

Exercise is what “separates the boys from the men.”  In other words this is the number one thing that must be done to maintain a healthy body.  First, one needs to know their body and what their body can endure. That depends on age, weight, and current level of fitness. The last factor determines how fast ones body burns fat.  Second, figure the basal metabolism rate (BMR). The formula for that, according to Margaret Deutsch, is for adult males: weight in pounds times 12; for females: weight in pounds times 11.  Also, for every 10 years older than 20 one should lower the result by 2%.  Next, understand that different programs work for different people.  People tend to go by the fad when it comes to picking an exercise program.  Do some shopping around to see which exercise is not only fit for you but also is something that you will enjoy.

Aerobic exercise is an example. Aerobic exercise is exercise, which essentially uses aerobic pathways to provide energy to the muscles involved.  It is sometimes called a “endurance exercise” which means that the heart rate is raised to 70 to 85% of your age predicted Maximum Heart Rate (MHR), and held at that point for a uninterrupted 20 to 30 minutes. Another example is weight-bearing exercises. This includes picking up weights that are a portion of your body weight. To remain in shape one does not have to do a lot of it but one should do some.  It is important in any type of exercising to avoid injury to the body from stretching before exercising to wearing the correct clothing.

Civilization tends to be aware of the former but ignore the latter. Sports bras are a common example of women hypocritingly exercising and at the same time injuring the body. Skin and ligaments (elastic connective tissue) provide a delicate support frame for the breasts that can be damaged by too much bouncing and stretching. There are two types of sports bras: compression bras and encapsulation, harness-type bras. The first works better for smaller breasted women because of the fit and the second tends to work better for larger women. When choosing the correct one for you take into account: the fit, how much support it is giving for the exercise that is going to be done, fabric (does it absorb moisture well), seams and stitching to avoid chaffing, and mobility.  After taking all these into account one can be assured that he is well prepared for the exercise routine.

In conclusion, all the factors mentioned above can lead to a less stressful life. Sleep can help the body relax to deal with everyday pressure. People who eat a diet low in refined carbohydrates, sugar and caffeine, and high in whole grains, have shown a greater ability to cope with stress as in contrast to those who consume the opposite. Exercise, as well, is a way to release stress and tension (i.e. running, kickboxing, stair stepping, etc.).  If one keeps all the factors in mind a healthier happier life can be achieved.

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