If I asked you what healthy behaviors are most important for weight loss, diet and exercise probably come to mind. Those things are important, yes, but sleep and weight loss also go hand in hand. Are you getting the right amount of sleep you need for successful weight loss?
You might not be. Roughly one in every four U.S. adults report inadequate sleep or rest at least 15 days every month. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body can have hormonal changes that impact your appetite and fullness you feel. That can lead to impulsive, unhealthy food choices.
Understanding the Sleep-Weight Loss Connection
In recent years, researchers have uncovered a significant link between sleep and weight loss. Lack of proper sleep can disrupt the body's hormonal balance, leading to an increase in hunger hormones (ghrelin) and a decrease in satiety hormones (leptin). This hormonal imbalance often results in increased food cravings and overeating, making it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
To help you with sleep and weight loss, here are effective strategies that will get you “REM-ing it up” in no time:
How does screen time before bed affect my sleep?
Set the Stage for Sleep
There is a good chance you’re reading this blog on some sort of screen (computer or mobile device). The light from your screen suppresses melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. As a result, you may encounter difficulty falling and staying asleep.
STRATEGY: Try making the 30-45 minutes leading up to bedtime screen-free. Doing so could make it easier to fall asleep and will keep you slumbering longer.
How can I improve my sleep routine?
The time of day you exercise does not matter as much as consistency with an activity routine. People who work out regularly sleep better and for longer periods of time than those who don’t. While you sleep, your body is hard at work releasing hormones that rebuild and revitalize muscles and joints. More hours snoozing equals more hours for your body to repair itself!
Caffeine can be a sleep killer. It should be no surprise that something that wakes you up can make it more difficult to go to sleep. For most people, caffeine wears off in about five or six hours.
STRATEGY: Depending on when you fall asleep, count backward five to six hours from your bedtime and cut out caffeine at that time. Not sure you can avoid that 4 P.M. pick me up? Consider a cup of half-caf or decaf to reduce the amount of caffeine you’re consuming. If you’re a coffee-lover, try our Mocha Frap recipe for the yummy taste without the caffeine.
Are naps helpful for weight loss?
Naps can indirectly support weight loss by boosting energy, reducing stress, and improving cognitive function. Contrary to popular belief, a long nap does not make up for poor nighttime sleep. Napping is fine as long as the nap does not exceed 30-45 minutes. After that, you’re treading into “deep sleep” territory and will likely wake up feeling groggy and more tired than when your nap began.
STRATEGY: To avoid negatively influencing nighttime sleep, it is good for naps to happen sometime before mid-afternoon. Set an alarm for your nap, so you do not end up oversleeping.
What can I do to create a restful sleep environment?
Get in the Sleep Zone
Establishing some type of routine or ritual before bedtime can help prepare you for a full night’s rest. Some routines that promote sleepiness include:
Taking a hot bath or shower
Reading (the old-fashioned way: no screens, please)
STRATEGY: Take a few minutes to write down your current weekday and weekend sleep routine. Begin with one item on that list that you would like to change and brainstorm a replacement activity that you think could better prepare you for sleep that you would be willing to try.
Getting adequate shut-eye improves cognitive function, increases your ability to cope with stress, and helps you better manage your weight. If bad habits have prevented you from getting a good night’s sleep, it’s time to wake up!
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