10 Tips to Help You Sleep Well and Lose Weight
By Adrianna Stadnyk
We are rhythmic beings. Our inner clock keeps us in sync with the various rhythms; one of which is called circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is our 24-hour cycle, and is well known for affecting our sleep habits, but also has a major influence on hunger, hormonal secretions (Ghrelin and Leptin), and even some activities such as eating. In addition, circadian rhythms control your sleep/wake cycle, body temperature, blood pressure, reaction time, alertness, and digestion – all of which can impact your weight.
Although it is clear that a lack of good quality sleep can cause many health problems, many studies are showing that sleep has the greatest impact on our weight; and lack of sleep can be the reason why you may not be shedding the fat. Sorting out your sleep patterns, and getting more sleep each night, can help you lose more weight; and burn fat over an extended period of time. Try putting these tips in practice each day to help get your circadian rhythm back on track:
1. Get one more hour of sleep per night
This might be one of the hardest things to achieve, but try going to bed one hour earlier than you usually do. This means power everything down one hour earlier than you do on most days. Turn off the computer, put away your cell phone, and shut down the TV. The last hour of your day should be used to relax and get ready for sleep. That includes shutting off electronic devices and dimming down the lights. Here are some things you can do to help you power down in the evening: 15-20 minutes of deep breathing or meditation, gentle yoga stretching, reading a book, writing in a journal, or sit in silence. OHMMM
2. Make sure your room is quiet, cool, and pitch black
You need your room to be totally dark so that your body can properly detoxify and produce the hormones needed to help regulate your natural rhythms and hunger patterns. One evening, turn off all of the lights and see where there may be any light seeping through or any bright lights shinning. Try to cover up or remove the sources of light as much as possible. If you are using an alarm clock that emits bright numbers, turn the clock away from you. Buy light blocking curtains if necessary. Another important part of this tip is to make sure you have a quiet and cool place to rest. We sleep better when our body is able to cool down for the night, so play with the temperature in your home if you are finding it too hot. Also wear earplugs or a night mask if you are finding your room isn’t dark enough or you are sleeping next to a snorer or live in a noisy area.
3. Remove electronics from your room (as much as possible)
Keeping electronics in your room creates a greater chance of you staying up later and staring at a screen much longer than you should. The bedroom should be used for two things only: sleep and sex. Watching TV, checking your emails, and browsing the net should be left for other rooms in the home and should not be used within an hour of going to sleep.
4. Check your bedding
Your bedding can make a world of a difference. It is important to be comfortable in bed so that you can rest without any disruption. It may be time to get a new mattress, pillow or sheets. Also, getting a sheet set that is made with natural fibers such as cotton will help to regulate your body temperature.
5. Follow an eating schedule during the day
The more likely we follow a schedule during the day, the more likely we are able to get into a routine at night, which helps us to get our circadian rhythm in check. This includes an eating schedule. We are meant to eat meals on a regular schedule, and doing so trains our bodies to get hungry only at mealtimes. Eating at random times contributes to circadian rhythm disruptions. For example, someone who wakes up late, skips breakfast then has a late dinner is more likely to have high blood sugar levels during the night, which means that sleep cycles will be disrupted.
6. Stop the late night eating
People who regularly get midnight munchies, which researchers call night-time eating syndrome (NES), are more than four times likely to be overweight or obese than people who don’t eat at night. This is because night-time eaters tend to binge and consume almost twice as many carbs as they do during the day. The best thing to do is eat a small snack 1-2 hours before sleep. Try making this snack a low-fat snack with some carbs in it. A small portion of high glycemic carb can actually increase tryptophan levels and helps you to relax and fall asleep faster. A healthy night-time snack would be a bowl of oatmeal, cereal with milk of choice, yogurt, or a slice of sprouted bread with raw nut butter and sliced banana.
7. Workout later in the day
For many years it was thought that exercising in the evening keeps you awake, but studies are now showing that people who do heavy lifting or vigorous exercises in the evening sleep better at night. A workout should make you sleep better since your body is tired and needs rest. Also, what happens after exercise mimics bodily changes that prepare you for sleep: your heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature all decrease. Furthermore, studies are now showing that evening is the best time to work out in terms of maximizing fat burn and building lean muscle. If you do find that late night exercise does mess with your sleep, try working out 2-3 hours before sleep.
8. Take a melatonin supplement
Melatonin is the sleep hormone. It regulates female hormones, and plays a key role in maintaining your circadian rhythms. It is produced in the pineal gland when it is dark out, and production slows as the sun dawns in the morning. Because majority of us live in environments where there are always bright lights around us (city lights, screens, etc), it is likely that we are not producing enough Melatonin during the night. Try starting with doses of 5 milligrams a night before you go to bed.
9. Kick out your furry friend
For those of us who sleep with our pets, it may be time to think about getting them their own bed. Pets tend to take up a lot of space and move around during the night. This will only disturb your own sleep and get in the way of getting comfortable in bed. This can be a tough step, but if your sleep is negatively affected by sharing the bed with a pet, seriously think of a way to change this.
10. Cut the stimulants
Substances that serve as stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes all mess with your hormones, which means they will inadvertently interfere with your circadian rhythm. To lose weight and get good rest, cutting down on any or all of these stimulants would be beneficial. For those who have light night drinks, alcohol lowers body temperature and makes you sleepy, but a few hours later you get a rebound rise in temperature and causes you to wake up through the night. As far as coffee goes, studies have shown that coffee after 4:00 pm interferes with your circadian rhythm and can keep you from getting a good sleep. If you are a coffee drinker, try to consume it before 4:00 pm.