Warning: You may receive startling, and sometimes, embarrassing insights about yourself that you never knew before. Of course, results vary according to the individual, but here are nuggets of info that I discovered about myself after Actxa chief executive Lim Chun Hong went through the wealth of data churned out from my Firstbeat assessment.
#1: It takes me two days to recover from a hangover. Oh woe is me.
Perhaps it’s due to, ahem, age, or the fact that I rarely go out partying anymore. But I’m ashamed to admit that one big Friday night out left me hungover almost an entire weekend. Sure, I burned 700 calories partying till 4am, but the after-effects are hardly as beneficial as, say, a HIIT class. I slept for seven hours after that, but none of it registered as recovery (also known as your body’s mode of relaxation to replenish resources). “The body was unable to go into recovery mode because of the alcohol intake and [dancing] before bedtime. It needed time [while you were sleeping] to process that alcohol, and that’s a form of stress to the body and mind. For very fit people, physical activity like dancing just before bedtime may not affect sleep that much. Younger people also tend to take less time to recover from a hangover,” says Chun. Ouch. I can’t turn back time, so I make a mental note to sign up for a gym membership instead.
#2: Drinking before bed doesn’t necessarily help you sleep better.
“The most surprising thing we learnt through the Firstbeat analyses we’ve done is that while a glass or two of alcohol before bed helps people fall asleep faster, it doesn’t help them sleep better,” says Chun. “If you drink just before bedtime and then sleep for seven hours, your body may spend the first two to three hours processing the alcohol. Having a glass or two at dinner is fine. If you finish by about 9pm, it won’t affect sleep.” What about daytime drinking? On the first day of my assessment, I have a couple of glasses of wine at a work lunch, and it doesn’t affect my sleep that night. In fact, it’s the best sleep — a nine-hour stretch and 95 per cent restorative effect— I had in all three days.
#3: My stress levels peak when I’m — surprise, surprise — not at work.
The most surprising takeaway from this assessment is that it’s not work that stresses me out the most (I just manage work stress very well, okay?) — it’s stuff like day-to-day tasks and certain social settings. Day 1’s stress levels peaked at aforementioned media lunch, for a 20-minute stretch during the two-hour event. Pity I have no idea what had exactly happened during that time that caused this, so I’ll just put it down as an intelligent, thought-provoking conversation. (That’s why journalling is especially important, you guys.) Embarrassingly, my heart rate and stress levels also consistently spiked whenever I was booking and waiting for my Grab and travelling in the car, and my heart rate immediately drops drastically after I alight. Could it be because I’m always looking at my phone in the car, I ask Chun. “It could be [that] or perhaps you’re subconsciously not comfortable with the way they drive,” he replies. Maybe I should just stick to buses and MRT. What else stresses me out? Cooking and household chores. I’m beginning to appreciate my mother way more now.
#4: Spacing out at work may not necessarily be a bad thing.
In my report, my best daytime recovery is recorded not in the weekend, but on a work day, right after I lunch at my desk. As much as I’d like to say that I was doing something cool like meditating, truth be told, I was most likely mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook. Some people take power naps, I go on social media. Right. “You should continue doing whatever you’re doing to help you recover in the day. It could be just spacing out, or doing something that really takes your mind off work. If you’re going for a coffee break, make sure you’re chatting about things unrelated to work. Although night time recovery — that is, when you sleep — is the most important ’cos it’s the longest stretch of recovery time, daytime recovery is important as well,” Chun muses. “It doesn’t matter which time of the day you do it, as long as you have an opportunity for daytime recovery, that’s a bonus.”
The Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment for individuals costs $299. For more info, go to www.Actxa.com.