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Sleep - your missing link

Prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep a night. That might sound like obvious advice, but in my experience, too many of us are way too willing to give up a few hours of sleep in favour of watching TV, working or socializing.

Sleeping should be a non-negotiable; sleeping will help you feel better, have more energy and regulate your weight.

Why? Sleeping helps your body and brain recover, and regulates the hormones that control your appetite. When you don't get enough sleep your body produces more Ghrelin, the "hunger hormone". Ghrelin encourages you to crave sweets. In contrast, getting enough sleep encourages your body to produce more leptin. Leptin will help you feel full.

Now, wanting to sleep and actually being able to sleep are often two different things. After a long, fast paced day - filled with too many screens - the body can have a hard time relaxing. You may need to implement a pre-bedtime relaxation routine.

First, turn off all screens at least thirty minutes before bed.

Next, try having a bath. An Epsom salt bath can be especially relaxing.

If you're not a bath person, try some meditation, deep breathing, gentle yoga, stretching, or use a foam roller. The foam roller is a long, cylindrical object made of dense foam. Using it helps me relax and release my achy and / or tired muscles.

Try these three exercises:

1. Lie on your back lengthwise along the roll. Put your arms out to the side so that your body forms a "t", palms up. Allow your arms to relax so that your hands are resting on the floor. Start by closing your eyes and just breathing for one to two minutes.

2. Open your eyes and start to arc your arms along the floor as if you are making a snow angel. Keep your arms as close to the floor as your body will comfortably allow. Do 10-15 reps.

3. Next, place your arms on the ground, hands next to your hips. Make small circles with your shoulder blades. Feel your blades move around the roll. Do 10 reps in both directions.

For a more intense upper back massage, come off of the roll and turn it so it is perpendicular to your body. Place it under your upper back. Your feet and bum should start on the floor. Your body should make a "t" with the roll. Support your head in your hands, lift your bum off of the ground and roll your body forwards and backwards so that your upper back gets a massage. Enjoy!

If you have a particularly tight muscle that keeps you awake, use the roller to massage it. Lay your sore body part on the roller, then move the roller forward and back on the muscle.