Sleep Better to Lose Weight

Did you know that sleep can impact your ability to lose weight?  It can!!  

Sleep is so important and has many effects on your overall health and well-being.  Not getting enough can cause you to have cravings for unhealthy food, leave you feeling run down and tired, and generally make it extremely difficult for you to lose weight.  

How do you know if you’re not getting enough quality sleep?  Here are 5 signs that your sleep may not be working for you.

1.    Your mind is foggy. What we experience and learn gets cemented to memory while we sleep.  Interference with this process causes: 

a.    Reduced alertness and concentration

b.    Confusion 

c.    Impaired judgement 

d.    Forgetfulness 

2.    You’re unhappy. While we sleep, we produce fresh neurotransmitters and regulate hormone production.  Interference here causes: 

a.    Impaired regulation of emotions 

b.    Heightened stress

c.    Low mood

d.    Possible increase in risk of depression

3.    You’re getting sick a lot.  When we don’t sleep enough, T-cells go down and inflammation goes up, resulting in: 

a.    Increased vulnerability to viruses and bacteria 

b.    Acute increase in risk of getting sick 

c.    Increased risk of heart disease and other inflammation-related illnesses

4.    Your workouts feel too hard.  Our body uses sleep as an opportunity to refresh neurotransmitter levels and remove energy-draining metabolites.  Otherwise, we experience: 

a.    Decreased central nervous system activity

b.    Slower reaction time

c.    Low energy and endurance capacity

d.    Depressed mood 

e.    Reduced desire to exercise 

5.    You’re struggling with your weight. Poor sleep is linked to excess body fat, as it can:

a.    Disrupt appetite regulation

b.    Cause you to feel hungrier

c.    Lead to increased calorie intake 

d.    Also, excess body fat can reduce sleep quality.  

 If you’re feeling any of these things and believe that sleep may be causing the problem, here are some tips to improve your quality and quantity of sleep.   

·     Wake up at the right time.  You feel better and more alert if you wake up at the right time during a light sleep stage. There are apps that can help to determine when is the best time for you to wake up. 

·     Be awakened by light.  This naturally raises cortisol, which is a good thing in the morning.  It can help you to feel more alert and relaxed.

·     Get moving right away.  Movement seems to help speed the waking process.  When it’s time to wake up, sit up and put your feet on the floor.  

·     Find the sun (or light therapy box).  Light exposure sets your daily melatonin (a sleep hormone) rhythm.  This increases wakefulness during the day and helps your body gear down at bedtime. 

·     Be careful of alcohol and caffeine.  Consuming caffeine after 2 pm and/or having more than 1-2 drinks in the evening can interfere with deep sleep. 

·     Exercise. Regular exercise helps normalize your body's 24-hour clock, regulate your fight-or-flight system, and optimize your hormone levels. However, be careful with very intense exercise later in the evening. It may make it harder to fall asleep.

·     Eat a small to medium size dinner.  Too much food can make it harder to fall asleep. A blend of minimally processed proteins, carbs, and fats can help keep you satisfied until morning. Plus, having some slow-digesting carbs can make you feel sleepy.

·     Limit fluids. Drinking too much liquid shortly before bed can result in frequent waking for bathroom breaks.

·     Clear your mind. Whatever thoughts are in your head, get them out and onto paper. This preps you for genuine relaxation.

·     Go to bed. Sticking to a reasonable bedtime teaches your body when to release calming hormones to help you fall asleep. Tip: Don’t wait until midnight. Every hour of sleep before 12am is worth two hours after.

·     Sleep at least 7 hours. Most people need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you're getting far less now, that's okay. Just work your way up slowly. Even adding 30 minutes can make a big difference.

·     Turn off electronics. Remove your eyes from all devices at least 30 minutes before bed. Artificial light interferes with our production of melatonin, which ensures deep sleep and may help regulate metabolism.

·     De-stress. Reading, meditation, and gentle movement (stretching, yoga, walking, sex) can release tension and activate calm-down chemicals.

·     Take a warm bath or shower. Warm water can help us relax and de-stress. Throw in some magnesium-based epsom salts, known to help with sleep.

·     Create a relaxing sleep area. Your bedroom should be quiet, peaceful, relatively organized, and free of anxiety-inducing clutter. If you live in an urban area, consider a white noise machine to drown out city sounds.

·     Set your room to an appropriate temperature. Most people sleep better when it’s cool (around 67 F); others sleep better at a neutral temperature. Find what works best for you.

·     Make the room as dark as possible. To maximize melatonin production, cover your windows and turn your phone face-down. Use a motion-sensitive or dim night light to illuminate mid-sleep bathroom trips.

 Try some of these tips and strategies to improve the quality of your sleep.  It will help regulate hormones, keep cravings at bay, and help you to love fat faster, in addition to the many other benefits of getting plenty of quality sleep.  

For more tips and strategies, join my Facebook group: 

Lifestyle Nutrition For Busy Women

Shannon LabradorComment