Be like a cat

Published 10:00 pm Friday, November 11, 2016

One thing cat lovers can tell you about their pets is that 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 they sleep so much have anything to do with their unusual strength? Actually, it just might.

Getting enough rest is crucial to keeping our bodies strong. It’s also very important in the healing process. In fact, when I am working with a client, and we are on a specific timeline (an athlete, model, or even someone trying to lose a certain amount of weight in a given time frame), one of the 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. A nap won’t do it, because there is a certain cycle to sleep.

There are actually five different stages of sleep. They are categorized as stages one, two, three, four and REM sleep. Stages three and four sleep are often 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 are able to dream.

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During stages three, four and REM sleep, 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 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.

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 that you do.

First, exercise daily, but not too close to bedtime because exercise can cause an adrenaline rush which can actually prevent sleep. Second, avoid alcohol, especially too close to bedtime. Third, try to establish regular sleep patterns. And fourth, in extreme cases of insomnia, consult your doctor for help.

Proper strategies in diet and exercise can help you make real changes in your body. I will show you these strategies and help you design a program that works for you.

Diet or exercise question? Email me at David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 29 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC Spartanburg baseball team, S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, and the Converses College equestrian team. He served as a water safety instructor to the United States Marine Corps, lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught for four semesters at USC Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.