Sleep more like your cat

Published 10:21 am Friday, July 8, 2011

One thing cat lovers can tell you about their pets is they sleep an awful lot.
Big cats and even their domestic counterparts can sleep as much as 20 hours a day. Cats are also pound for pound among the strongest animals on earth.
Does the fact that they sleep so much have anything to do with their extraordinary strength? Actually, it just might. Getting enough rest is crucial to keeping our bodies strong. It’s also very important in our body’s healing processes. In fact, when I’m working with a client, and we have a specific time line (an athlete, model or even someone trying to lose a specific amount of weight in a given time frame), one of the very first things I require of them is that they get an extra hour of sleep every night. I tell them to do this, whether they have to go to bed an hour earlier, or get up an hour later. There are actually five different stages of sleep that we experience. They are categorized as stages, “One, two, three, four and REM” sleep.
Stages three and four are referred to as “Deep Sleep.” REM sleep is the fifth stage of sleep, and is called REM, because of the “Rapid Eye Movement” experienced during this phase.
REM sleep is also the stage of sleep where we’re able to dream. During stages three, four and REM our bodies are in a constant state of repair. This is the time when brain cells are being replaced and muscle, bone and organ tissue is repaired. REM sleep is also the period when “HGH” is released. HGH stands for “human growth hormone.”
This is the hormone that is responsible for much of the repair that takes place in our bodies. Without this release of HGH, our bodies age prematurely.
Also, getting enough sleep is essential for our immune systems to function properly. Now some people try to use alcohol to help them sleep. They usually refer to this as a “night cap.”

The problem is, that while alcohol does make you fall asleep quickly, it only allows you to reach stages one and two of sleep. To get a better night’s sleep, there are several things I recommend you do:
Exercise daily, but not too close to bedtime because exercise can cause an adrenaline rush, which can actually prevent sleep.
Avoid alcohol, especially too close to bedtime.
Try to establish regular sleep patterns.
In extreme cases of insomnia, consult your doctor. He may be able to help. Proper strategies in diet and exercise can help you make real changes in your body.
Diet or exercise question?
Email me at or visit David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist for 24 years.
He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., Head strength coach to the S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, USC-Spartanburg baseball team, Converse college equestrian team, Lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, taught four semesters at USC-Union. Crocker was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.

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