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Today’s Health Upgrade
The Ted Lasso sleep method
A life-changing question
Can you freeze away fat?
Trouble Sleeping? Ted Lasso Can Help
If you’re struggling to get better rest — or simply relax at the end of the day — steal a page from Ted Lasso's therapist. A simple breathing exercise can not only improve your rest, but it also can reduce anxiety, fight cravings, and improve your health.
The popular show shared the 4-7-8 method to help Lasso deal with panic attacks. But the breathing technique, which is based on pranayama yoga and popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil, is incredibly effective at improving sleep.
When your brain is racing before bed, your heart rate increases, and you become more alert — the opposite of what you want before going to sleep. The 4-7-8 method calms your body, and research suggests it improves your heart rate and HRV (an important measure of recovery) and lowers anxiety and blood pressure. This combination puts you in a more relaxed state, which can help you fall asleep faster and have higher quality sleep.
Want to give it a try? Here’s how it works:
Breathe in through your nose for a count of four seconds.
Hold your breath for seven seconds. (If you can't hold for this long, start with three to four seconds)
Exhale for eight seconds, making a "whoosh" sound through pursed lips. (Again, if this is too hard, exhale for a shorter time period.)
Repeat up to four times.
A Life-Changing Question
When stress, anxiety, and frustration hits, a 5-word question can make all the difference between spiraling out of control and turning things around. The question:
What do I need now?
That was the breakthrough from Kristin Neff, a psychologist at the University of Texas, who studies self-compassion. While many people believe self-compassion is a sign of weakness or apathy, studies suggest the opposite — both mentally and physically. Neff found that people who have more self-compassion have more self-confidence, better immune function, and less heart disease, depression, and stress.
When you answer the question, talk to yourself in the same supportive tone you would use with your best friend. The goal of self-compassion isn’t to settle for less; it’s to help you see the bigger picture without internalizing undo stress. That’s because self-compassion allows you to accept failure as part of the journey. And it makes it easier to keep pushing when you fall short of your goals, grow, and have more motivation.
Even if you feel uncertain about this method, give it a try. Simply asking the question gives yourself a moment of self-compassion. And if you answer it, you can start building the resilience that can help you overcome and conquer the toughest challenges.
Can You Freeze Away Fat?
We are living in the age of the ice bath. Daniel does them daily (he mentioned this weekend something about a 60+ day streak). Some people — like Daniel — like how it makes them feel, including the surge of dopamine (Daniel describes it as more powerful than any pre-workout. He doesn’t care too much about the science, but his personal experience is a reminder that if something helps you move toward your goals, don’t overthink it.)
But, if you’re using cold to help with weight loss — whether with ice baths, cryo-chambers, or some other method — you’re likely wasting your time.
A recent study made it seem like putting your body in a deep freeze would help you melt unwanted fat by increasing brown adipose tissue (BAT), which is linked to fat burning. That’s great in theory, but the research isn't as exciting as the headlines.
The study found that people swimming in cold water 2-3 times per week (and spending a lot more time in the water than you’ll spend in a cold tub) burned just 10 extra calories.
If you enjoy cold exposure and you find it beneficial, then keep on doing it. But, some of the benefits of the cold are overrated or can achieved in other ways. For example, the cold surge of dopamine can also be accomplished by listening to music, lifting weights, going outside, having sex, or just talking to a friend.
Remember: there are many ways to be healthier. Don’t feel forced into certain behaviors; instead, pick a mix of the things that challenge you and the things you enjoy (that are good for you) and do them repeatedly. This is an effective approach to better health.
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