Apr 24 2012
By Maria Lally
Getting active can help you sleep better at night
ARE you repeatedly hitting the snooze button on your alarm, drinking coffee all morning, craving sugary treats all afternoon and feeling bloated and constantly shattered? If so, you’re not alone.
In his new book, Revive: End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again, Dr Frank Lipman claims a generation of overworked women are suffering from an “exhaustion epidemic”.
“Modern life is burning them out,” said Dr Lipman, who counts Gwyneth Paltrow among his clients.
As well as Hollywood stars, Dr Lipman sees many ordinary women in his New York clinic who are simply worn out by the demands of raising a family, holding down a job and running a home.
“They put everybody else first and their energy levels are paying the price,” he said.
“They grab processed food on the go, they don’t sleep properly, they rarely find time to relax, they have long to-do lists and they’re glued to their mobile phones or laptops.
“All of these things are draining them of energy.”
Here, he reveals why we’re so tired all the time and offers easy advice on becoming slimmer, happier and brimming with energy.
Are you exhausted?
● Do you wake up tired, regardless of how much sleep you’ve had?
● Do you need caffeine (tea or coffee) to get you going in the morning?
● Do you have trouble concentrating and often get distracted?
● Do you crave something sweet after your meals and in the evening?
● Do you find it hard to unwind at the end of the day?
● Do you tend to suffer from bloating or constipation?
● Do you have trouble falling asleep at night, even though you’ve felt tired all day?
Under his definition, Dr Lipman says that you are exhausted if you answered “Yes” to three or more of these questions.
Sort out your digestive system
Before he gets started with new clients, Dr Lipman asks them about their digestion. “Most of us don’t realise our digestive systems aren’t working properly,” he explained.
“We’ve become so used to mild indigestion, constipation, irritable bowels and bloating that we think it’s normal.
“But it really isn’t normal and if you sort out your digestion first, other problems, such as tiredness and sluggishness, will sort themselves out.
“No matter how healthy your food is, if your digestive system isn’t working properly you won’t reap the rewards of all that healthy food, which can lead to a weakened immune system and more tiredness.”
Dr Lipman advises avoiding sugar and alcohol, as both can badly affect your digestion.
“Most of us eat too quickly and don’t take the time to properly chew our food, which leads to bad digestion and poorly digested food sitting in the gut.
“This, in turn, goes on to cause bloating,” Dr Lipman said.
He also suggests clients take probiotic and ginseng supplements because both can help improve your digestion.
“You’ll be amazed at the improvement you’ll see in your energy levels when you improve your digestion,” he says.
Try Vitabiotics Ultra Ginkgo Ginseng (available nationwide, £9.95 for 60 capsules) and Boots Pharmaceuticals Probiotic Multivitamin (£3.49 for 30 capsules). And the most simple tip of all? “Sit up straight — it really helps your digestion,” he said.
Dr Lipman believes people who over-use technology risk running out of steam.
“In today’s world, many of us literally can’t switch off,” he said.
“We’re glued to our computers during the day, our phones on the way to and from work, and our laptops in the evening.
“Then there’s TV. All of these are stimulants and they can disturb your quality of sleep.” Dr Lipman advises all his clients to switch off their laptops, TVs and mobile phones an hour — preferably two — before bed.
“Exposure to electromagnetic fields too close to bedtime stops the sleep hormone melatonin from being secreted as you fall asleep, which means you never reach the deep, restorative type of sleep we all need,” he said.
“This type of sleep leaves you feeling fully refreshed after seven or eight hours, plus it keeps your immune system strong.”
Dr Lipman suggests his patients wear an eye mask in bed. He said: “Total darkness helps you fall into a deep restorative sleep.”
Or invest in blackout blinds for the bedroom. Try a Moulded Blackout Eye Mask from MS (£5).
Clean out your diet
Dr Lipman believes a processed diet and too much sugar are two of the main culprits of exhaustion.
“You should get back to the most natural and pure foods,” he said.
“As well as avoiding processed foods such as junk food, tinned food and ready meals, don’t buy foods that contain trans fats — they can increase your risk of heart disease and they’re found in some margarines and baked goods like biscuits.”
Refined sugar is a no-no, so avoid cakes, sweets, fizzy drinks and seemingly healthy products like cereal bars, low-fat yoghurts and some sauces (check the label for the sugar content).
“Your body processes sugar rapidly, which is why it gives you a burst of energy,” said Dr Lipman.
“Then your blood-sugar levels drop so the energy surge vanishes.
“This process causes the body to crave more sugar so you eat more to get another hit of energy. Then a vicious circle begins.”
Dr Lipman says overwhelming your body with sugar puts stress on it, wearing you out and leading to weight gain.
He advises clients to eat wholesome natural foods (such as chicken, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts, some wholemeal carbs such as brown pasta and rice).
Dr Lipman believes we must all put aside some time to unwind.
“Whether it’s breathing before bed or doing relaxing exercises, taking a bit of time out each day will help calm down a racing mind and leave you feeling restored and much more relaxed,” he said.
Before bed, try the following: find a quiet space and sit down (in a chair or on the floor) in a comfortable position.
Close your eyes and place your hands in your lap.
Spend five minutes inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your nose.
Or try this: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Place two tennis balls at the top of your shoulder blades, side by side, either side of the spine, in the area where you would have a shoulder massage.
Slowly lower your head and shoulders. Place a pillow behind your head if your neck is uncomfortable.
Lift your arms to the ceiling, then move them slowly towards your knees and then towards the wall behind you.
Repeat this 10 times.