The secret to sleeping well is to do cardio. Stop surfing the web right now and head to the gym. Many exercises are healthy and many might say that they will help you sleep. For example, yoga, which I teach, says that it will relax you. It does. It makes you feel great. But for people who can’t fall asleep, a cardio workout is the answer.
Cardio refers to your heart muscle. If you move without a break and sweat for a specific amount of time, you exercise this muscle. Ballet, for example, which I also teach, is not a cardio workout even though you sweat because you stop between exercises. Cardio workouts include elliptical machines, bicycling, jogging, aerobic, and Zumba classes if you keep going without taking breaks.
Cardio recalibrates your body. Your body needs this recalibration at least 3times a week. But instead of listening to articles and trainers–pay attention to yourself to know when you need it. You can tell when you start to feel a little off. You need to recalibrate with cardio if you start to feel anxious or sad for no reason, if you have cravings that aren’t healthy, if you have an excess of energy or not enough of it, if your immune system seems down, if you have too many thoughts on your mind, if you don’t have enough thoughts or run out of good ideas, if you are mad at someone or have really disturbing thoughts, if you can’t sleep as deeply or enough, or if you feel any other sensation that does not match your best day that you would want to maintain.
Cardio is great for burning the excess hormones that are not needed, bringing fresh oxygen with new nutrients to every part of the body, and giving you a calm sensation that you can take over the world. It resets your systems and clocks. It gives you a fresh start. Try to stay on a regular routine so that you never have to feel that you need this recalibration.
How do you know how long to do the cardio? Everyone has a magical number of minutes that works for them. You find that number when you reach the point that you cannot go on anymore without stopping, and you continue anyway, and all of a sudden you feel that you could go on forever. This the point that you might as well stop, because overdoing is not part of the HeartMark Health philosophy. Overdoing is plain silly when it comes to your health. You can go on and do other great things and keep your balance between working on your body and working on other matters.
My magical number seems to be around 18minutes, but this depends on variables—I don’t force myself to a number—I listen to my body. I like to maintain a sweat for about that long. It might take 7 minutes to reach that point of sweating. I keep going for a few minutes more, depending on how much time I have. If you are older, if you carry a lot of weight on your body, if you just gave birth, or if you are out of shape, your number may be 5 minutes on an elliptical machine. It may be 12 minutes. Pay attention, try to sweat, and see what your magic number is. After a cold, I don’t do as much, and that’s fine.
The best way to do cardio is without any fake energy boosts. Don’t drink soda. Don’t reach for caffeine. Don’t reach for supplements that say they’ll give you energy for a workout. Don’t mask how you feel. Pay attention to it, and work with your body. Don’t throw off the balance. Your goal is to recalibrate your system, so don’t add chemicals that will make your job more difficult.
If you are tired, ask yourself if a workout will make you feel better, or if rest will be the day’s cure. This is not an easy call if you are coming down with a nasty cold. (Sometimes you hands will feel weak and you won’t understand why, but it’s the beginning of a cold!) Most of the time, if you can still get up, no matter how tired, a workout with a gentle start is the best medicine. You can do things at the gym that match how tired you are. For example, you can sit on a stationary bike and peddle slowly. You can stretch slowly and gently and breathe. Before you know it, you will have more and more energy. Pay attention to how you feel, don’t hurt yourself, and increase your vigor at your rate. No one is grading you.
Please avoid medicines that say they’ll help you sleep. Love your body. Learn to live with it and take care of it. Think of the inside as much as you pay attention to the outside, and if you don’t pay attention to either, then start. The HeartMark is the heart hand gesture that I invented for self-affirmation as well as a way to express appreciation to others. For HeartMark Health, you use the HeartMark to remind yourself that your body deserves time and attention. Your body deserves that you take time out for it. The better you take care of yourself, the better you are to those who care about you. So it’s okay to be selfish that way. HeartMark and visualize your systems get recalibrated to get better results.
One big HeartMark for You!
PS–Gold’s Gym often has a movie room with Netflix. I caught up on a decade of eclectic films that I missed thanks to motherhood. It’s a great way to pull your thoughts away if you need that kind of distraction. Not that I don’t promote reading health magazines or novels while exercising! I also taught myself graphic design during the 20 minute workouts that my newborn permitted. Cardio at a gym is multi-tasking at its best!