How Naps Can Improve Your Performance

As babies and small children, we probably engaged in napping. Naps gave our parents a break and improved our temperament as the day wore on. Without a nap, we were cranky, whiney, uncooperative and not pleasant to be around.  As we grew older our naps became shorter in duration until one day we stopped taking them. As adults, we don’t allow ourselves the luxury of taking naps mostly due to the pressure of our fast paced lifestyles. Most of our days begin very early and last until late into the evening.

 

At a recent health fair, while talking with people about lifestyle, many complained of poor sleep. Poor sleep is impacting our lives more now than ever before. Much of this is blamed on technology and our ability to be connected 24/7. In the 1940’s, the average person slept 7.9 hours a night. Today we sleep on average 6.8 hours a night. Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to less self-control, poor attention span and compromised decision-making. Research shows that those who sleep less than 7-9 hours a night perform poorly when solving complex problems, attempting to stick to a diet or learn a new skill. Are naps the answer to improve our performance and decision making skills?

 

I have a friend who for years has been taking what he calls a 20-minute power nap. When I first met him and heard about his “need” for a short nap, I thought what could 20 minutes really do? What it doesn’t do is make up for inadequate sleep but it can improve energy and concentration. In a NASA study they found that a 25-minute nap improved judgment by 35%. This has to be why our children seemed to behave better after a nap don’t you think? In a study of people taking a 15-20 minute nap versus drinking a Starbucks grande-size coffee, nappers won out again for alertness and the ability to finish out the day. So how does a short nap improve performance? It has to do with our conscious and unconscious brain.

 

Our conscious brain is the one that’s always turned on. It is the part that is taking in our environment, controlling our actions and making decisions. Just as a muscle fatigues during exercise, the conscious brain fatigues during the day. A short nap or shuteye session gives our conscious brain a much-needed break. You might say I can’t take a nap no matter how hard I try. Well even the act of lying down and closing your eyes can allow the conscious brain to turn off for a while.

 

So how much is enough? Most agree that anything under 30 minutes is beneficial. Over 30 minutes we run the risk of waking up during a deep sleep cycle that causes us to feel sluggish and groggy. The prime time of day to squeeze in a power nap is between 1 and 3pm. In my experience, this is the time frame where I struggle to not face plant into my computer monitor at work!

 

So in conclusion, we definitely need to continue to work on improving our overall sleep habit. Short naps taken during the day can help increase our performance, ability to learn and our decision-making skills. Begin by setting a timer for 20-30 minutes until your body adjusts. Don’t worry if you can’t fall asleep just close your eyes and allow your brain to take a pause from all the stimulus and activity going on in the environment. You will be better able to tackle the rest of your day!

 

If you’re not involved with something that is improving your life and are ready to make a change in your health and vitality, start by setting up your Vitality Strategy Session! Our Pack is here to support you on your journey.

How to Spend Your Time Wisely

As early as they can, our parents start to ingrain in us the importance of making a living, saving money and bringing in the doe so that we can pay the bills and live a somewhat satisfying life along the way. And while their intentions are good, money isn’t the resource that we should really be focusing on.

 

So much of our time is wasted pursuing goals or tasks that aren’t our own. But we have a hard time seeing that because our beliefs about what is important are ingrained in us from a very early age. Noticing these beliefs and making a shift to focus on the things that really matter to YOU is what will determine if you lead a fulfilled life or not. And today I want to focus on the resource that all of us use on a regular basis but is much less appreciated than it should be. But before we get to that, let’s talk a little more about resources.

 

What is a Resource Exactly?

 

Any time we run into a problem when trying to complete a project or make a decision, it’s typically because of a lack of resources. A resource is simply something or someone you can utilize in order to help you achieve whatever you’re after (this isn’t Websters definitely, but I imagine it’s pretty darn close).

 

For instance, if you’re trying to lose 20lbs, you’ll need a few things to help you along the way. On a basic level, some general knowledge about what it takes to lose 20lbs is a great place to start. That is a resource. On the next level, having a gym to go to in order to get your fitness on will be imperative. Yet another resource. And finally, at the highest level, having a persona fitness coach tell you what to do, how to do, and when to do it would get you to you 20lb goal efficiently and effectively. Yup, you coach is a resource.

 

The resource that is most adored in our society is money. Money is adored because of the things it can buy and the (perceived) ease of life it brings. And money is certainly an important resource to have. The level of which you have money and should pursue it depends on what you expect out of life and of yourself (but this is another story for another day).

 

Here is where it is important for me to make another distinction. Within the resources of life, we have renewable resources and non-renewable resources. Renewable resources are, well, renewable. They are able to be replenished. Food is a renewable resource. Your coach is a renewable resource (only if their mediocre. A great coach should be non-renewable).

 

I bring this point up because money is a renewable resource, but most of us don’t treat it as such. Most of us treat money as non-renewable. We make career decisions based on this thought process. We make family decisions based on this thought process. And when you start to make decisions because you believe that money is non-renewable, then happiness goes down and misery goes up.

 

Focus on the Ultimate Non-Renewable Resource

 

Now I don’t make this point because I believe that money is evil and that you should purely focused on happiness and fulfillment through nature. I enjoy money and I want more of it. Money should be used as a tool. You should be using money, not letting money use you.

 

But, more importantly, focusing on money brings you away from a non-renewable resource that should be ultimately dear to you…and that is your TIME.

 

Yes, believe it or not, time is a non-renewable resource. Many of us want to overlook that fact because we are in denial that our time will come to an end on this planet at some point. But we also overlook it because we are more focused on other things, such as making money.

 

What you spend your time on should be held to the highest priority. Every time you decide to binge watch a TV show on Netflix, you’re deciding to not spend time with your family or to build your side-hustle business or to enrich your relationship with your friends. Any time you’re making a decision to do one thing, you’re also making a decision to NOT do a thousand other things.

 

Now, I know what you’re thinking, if there are thousands upon thousands of things I could be doing, then how in world do I decide what to do? Well, that’s a simple answer. All you have to do is answer a few questions…

 

How to Know What to Spend Your Time On

 

Like I said, the answer to the above question is pretty simple. Getting to that answer may not be as easy. There are 3 questions that you can ask yourself in order to know if what you’re spending your time on is actually getting you to where you want to go in life. Answering these 3 questions requires some thinking. Actually, it requires more than thinking. It requires some serious introspection.

 

Here are the 3 questions that you can answer to figure out what decisions you need to start to make or continue to make to improve your life:

 

#1) What’s You Purpose?

 

This seems like a simple question because it’s so short. But don’t let it fool you. Understanding your purpose will help guide every decision that you make. Your purpose is the reason that you believe you are on this planet. My purpose is to help as many people as I can become as healthy and vital as they can be.

Every decision that I make is based on this purpose. If someone comes to be and wants to open a candy store, I’m not in because it doesn’t follow my purpose.

 

#2) What Are Your Values?

 

We’ve all heard about company or corporate values (most of which are just lip service, but, again, another story). Company values are imperative to holding structure and making sure that everyone is on the same page when working with customers.

You should have your set of values as well. This doesn’t have to be an extensive list, maybe 5-7 values. These are simply traits that you believe are important in life. A couple of mine, for instance, are constant-never-ending improvement, honesty & integrity, and authenticity.

A good way to figure out your values is to write down 10 characteristics that bother you the most, then find the opposite of those characteristics.

 

#3) What Are Your Passions?

 

No, I don’t mean sexual passions. Get your head out of the gutter. What are you truly passionate about? If you love video games, the world might tell you (and by world I mean friends and family) that there is no future in video games. But if this is you and you’re working as a bank teller because of outside pressure, your life is miserable.

Maybe you don’t know what your passionate about yet, and that’s okay. Keep trying things until you find something. A passion isn’t necessarily something you’re meant to do. Believing that there’s something that you’re meant to do (play violin, be an accountant, be a veterinarian) is like believing in soul mates. Statistically speaking, neither one makes sense.

If you know your purpose (helping people, being creative, saving animals) then you have an abundance of ways to achieve that purpose.

 

Now, I don’t give you this list of questions so you can read them and ponder them briefly. I expect you to sit down and write out the answers to all 3 of the questions. Take time to think through your answers. Be introspective, not just surface level. And when you’re finished or if you’re stuck, feel free to email me at jerry@thrive4strength.com. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

 

If you’re not involved with something that is improving your life and are ready to make a change in your health and vitality, start by setting up your Vitality Strategy Session! Our Pack is here to support you on your journey.

White Rice or Brown Rice…What’s the Difference?

When I meet with clients we discuss carbohydrates and this question always comes up. Is white rice better for you or brown? We have been taught to avoid all “white” foods” like sugar, white bread and white flour for optimal health and body composition. A blanket statement like this is an attempt to keep guidelines simple for people. Labeling food as good or bad is not the most sustainable approach to nutrition. However understanding the impact food has on our body and how it makes us feel and perform might be the better approach. At least that is what I have found in my journey of health and wellness. So let’s explore the topic of which rice is better for you.

 

First, rice belongs to the grass family and is actually a seed. It comes in several different varieties like brown, white, wild etc. One cup on average contains roughly 45 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein and 200 or so calories. White rice has had the germ and bran removed from the outside unlike brown rice. Now that we understand some basics, lets look deeper at the nutrition side to rice.

 

 

  1. Nutrient Dense

 

Neither type of rice is a nutrient dense food. Nutrient dense foods give us the most nutrients for the least amount of calories. In other words, rice isn’t high in nutrient value for the 200 calories it contains. That’s an important piece of information to remember especially if you have the goal of weight loss. On the other hand, rice is a good source of glucose (sugar) and is a great post workout meal to help replace your glycogen stores. If you have weight loss goals, this would be a food that you need to definitely portion control and place in a post workout meal. If you want to gain weight, rice is a great option for added calories, however look elsewhere for your vitamins and minerals.

 

  1. Phytic Acid

 

Now let’s talk about phytates or phytic acid. This is an area of debate in field of nutrition. Phytates are a compound found in the seeds of plants. It is the storage form of energy for the young plant. Since rice is a seed it contains phytic acid. Phytates bind with minerals found in the food we eat. They also inhibit enzymes we need to digest proteins and starches. Many believe phytates also carry some antioxidant benefits. Cooking, fermenting or sprouting help to lower phytic acid levels in grains, beans and seeds. If you have gut issues already or a vitamin deficiency then you might want to think about the amount of rice you are eating in your diet.

 

  1. Gut Health

 

All disease begins in the gut-a quote credited to Hippocrates. Gut health is importance for all of us as it plays a major role in overall health. A healthy gut is important for digestion and absorption of our food, immune system response and mental health. Brown rice can be irritating to the gut lining and difficult to digest contributing to something known as leaky gut syndrome. That’s a topic for a future article, just know it’s linked to illness and the development of chronic disease. We all need to take better care of our gut and especially those with autoimmune disease.

 

So in conclusion, if you have been eating brown rice because that’s what you have been lead to believe is healthier, you might want to think again. Food is more than just what we eat when we are hungry. We need to think a little deeper about what food does for and to our body so we can feel better, perform better and live a better life.