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Even Superheroes need sleep - by Tracy Reck

I've written about this before, but as I've been getting up every single morning at the crack of dawn to walk my boy (dog), I'm feeling the importance of this health pillar ever more. Here's the fact of the matter - you can't burn the candle at both ends. Sleep is a fundamental source of life, energy, wellbeing, level-headedness and smiles.

Without enough of it:

• Normally kind, sweet, mild-mannered people inexplicably turn into the scariest of grizzly bears

• Those who usually exhibit excellent levels of control around junk food will start channeling Homer Simpson's eating habits. Ooh, donuts!

• Tiggerish types who typically bounce through their days will droop and wilt before even lunchtime has passed

• Workout-lovers will feel more like skipping their session than skipping rope

• Happy people will develop ‘the ennui’ - a feeling that a damp, heavy, cold cloth has settled over your ability to feel happy and motivated, preventing all your usual joy from bubbling to the surface

Tiredness is, for many a person, a Red Light Trigger, which means that its presence leads always, without exception, to poor choices. With effort, it is possible to downgrade it to an Amber Light Trigger, which means that sometimes it'll get ya, sometimes it won't.

Here's how you do that - figure out some in-the-moment ways of ACTUALLY dealing with your tiredness. Why?

- Because muffins do not help you meet your sleep debt

- Alcohol will not eradicate your need to get more shut eye

- Crisps do not have a magical ability to re-energise you

Next time you find yourself making poor food-related decisions driven by tiredness, remind yourself of those facts, walk away from the kitchen and do something that truly refreshes you.

A 30 minute nap, maybe. A 20 minute walk. A 10 minute meditation. 5 minutes with your eyes shut. Experiment. Figure out what will help you when tiredness hits.

Then figure out why you're tired in the first place. Where you are losing sleep? You can only put sticking plasters on this for so long. Ultimately you needs your 7-9 hours and if you aren't getting them, you're on a hiding to nowhere good.

As for me, I'm off for a snooze. See you next ti...zzzzzzzzzzzz

Tracy Reck is a fitness and nutrition writer, coach and speaker.

You can read more from her at www.exuberanthealth.co.uk