Frequently Asked Questions Part 2
Last year we dedicated a week to answering our most frequently asked questions and we received a lot of great feedback afterward. We get a lot of questions through live events, coaching, and our online courses, and we’d like to share these questions and answers with our entire community. We plan on doing this every few months to make sure that we’re keeping up with the demand. If you have any follow up questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible and include them in our next FAQ newsletter. Enjoy!
I know that looking at screens before bed is bad, but what about reading on a kindle?
Exposing your eyes to light at night signals to your brain that it’s daytime and impairs the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Blue light emitted from screens is particularly harmful, which is why we suggest putting away devices an hour before you’d like to be asleep. We call this defending your last hour. E-readers such as kindles are a better choice than other devices, however they do still emit some blue light and if you’re finding it hard to get to sleep and stay asleep, you should avoid using them at night. Reading a paperback book with a bedside light at a dim setting is always the best option.
Are naps good for you?
Naps have both mental and physical benefits. They can improve mental alertness, energy, and memory, and can even help you recover from a workout. However, naps can also make you feel groggy and worse than you did before the nap. So you need to make sure you’re napping “right” to get all of the amazing benefits. During the night, we alternate between REM, light, and deep sleep in approximately 90-minute cycles. You want to time your nap appropriately so you’re not waking up during deep sleep. This means that you should either take a power nap (20 minutes or less), or allow yourself to go through an entire sleep cycle (90 minutes) to ensure you’re waking up in a lighter stage of sleep. Check out our blog on naps to dive deeper into this topic!
Can I work out at night?
Everyone is different and there is not one best time to work out. Some people prefer to work out in the morning, some as a midday break, and others prefer to work out at the end of the workday to de-stress. However, you should try to stick to the same time every day to make sure you’re staying consistent and developing a routine. You can work out at night provided that you don’t do anything too intense within a couple hours of going to bed as this can increase your body temperature and decrease sleep efficiency. However, light and even moderate exercise don’t appear to negatively affect sleep if done within a couple hours before bed.
What’s the ideal amount of exercise to not get sick?
There is a J-shaped relationship between exercise dose and immunity. If you don’t exercise at all, you have a weak immune system and you’re more likely to get sick. However, if you’re participating in really high-intensity exercise often (for example if you’re an elite athlete), you will deplete your immune system. The same is true for if you’re under a lot of mental stress which is why it’s good to track how well you’re recovering on a regular basis. However, in general exercising at a moderate-intensity consistently will boost your immune system and decrease your chances of contracting an illness.
What about intermittent fasting?
Most intermittent fasting methods involve eating within 8–12 hours of the day, instead of within the 16 hours that most of us are awake. Studies suggest that intermittent fasting can help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, prevent the development of atherosclerosis, improve blood pressure, and increase autophagy (the process of detecting and recycling broken-down cells). Another benefit of intermittent fasting is that when the body is in a fasted state, it makes a metabolic switch to rely less on glycogen and more on fat stores for energy. This fuel source switch can decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. Finally, fasting has been shown to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which stimulates the growth of new neurons in the brain.
While intermittent fasting has been shown to improve physical and mental wellbeing without major adverse effects, we don’t recommend trying anything extreme before talking to a health professional. It’s also not for anyone with underlying medical issues, including anyone with hormonal imbalances, pregnant and breastfeeding women, diabetics, and people with eating disorders. If you have an underlying condition it’s best to talk to a medical professional before implementing this type of diet. Finally, no one under the age of 21 should be practicing fasting unless they are doing so for medical reasons under the supervision of a physician. Click here to read more on intermittent fasting!
What about “cheat” days?
Of course having unhealthy foods on a regular basis is not good for your health, however being really restrictive can lead to unhealthy habits as well. It’s also important to recognize that, in addition to being fuel, food is meant to be enjoyable and is an important part of social life. There are reasons to indulge (e.g. occasionally treating yourself to your favourite dessert, going out for a nice meal with family or friends, etc.), but you don’t want to make it an everyday habit. So finding that balance is tricky and everyone is different — some people can have a treat occasionally to crave their sweet tooth, while other people know that if they treat themselves it will cause them to relapse into old habits. Becoming aware of your triggers and knowing how to prevent a cheat day into becoming a cheat week is important. One simple tip is to not keep sweets and unhealthy snacks in the house. Instead keep easy-to-grab healthy snacks readily available. Then when you get a craving, instead of reaching for that unhealthy snack, you have a healthy snack already prepared for you.
What about alcohol?
Unfortunately there is no safe amount of alcohol to consume. In addition to its addictive properties and potential longterm consequences, alcohol has some hidden effects that you might not be aware of. Alcohol causes dehydration, depresses the immune system, impairs sleep and your ability to recover, affects your ability to exercise, alters metabolism, and can lead to poor food choices. Alcohol consumption (especially excessive drinking) can also lead to or worsen anxiety. Of course, similar to “cheat” foods, alcohol is a social activity and there can be reasons to treat yourself to a drink if you don’t have a history of alcohol abuse. However we suggest limiting your consumption to special occasions as opposed to making it a daily habit.
How do I quiet my mind when meditating?
The more you meditate, the easier it will be to quiet your mind. However, keep in mind that you will have some days that are harder than others and that’s okay. If your mind is racing, that doesn’t mean that your meditation isn’t working. In fact, when your mind is all over the place, that’s when it’s even more important to meditate. Every time you notice that your mind is wandering and you bring it back to your anchor, you are improving your ability to quiet your mind even if the benefits aren’t immediately obvious. If you’re new to meditation, you might want to check out an app that can take you through some guided sessions. There are many apps out there, but some of our favourites are Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer, and Smiling Mind. Check out our blog to dive deeper into this topic!
We hope you found these questions/answers helpful! We’ll do Part 3 in a few months so keep your eyes peeled for that.