The amount of sleep you do (or don’t!) get at night can have a huge impact upon your health and ability to lose weight.
Sleeping for 7-9 hours per night, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation can reduce your level of hunger, spur you to make better food choices, prevent you from overeating, aid in stress reduction, reduce your risk of disease, and simply make you feel better.
Sleep is like free medicine!
Sleep duration recommendations from the national sleep foundation
In this post I will discuss how a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain and provide 9 tips to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep.
HOW SLEEP EFFECTS FAT LOSS
INCREASED CALORIE INTAKE
Research shows that sleep deprived individuals eat around 500 calories more than people getting sufficient sleep. This is obviously bad news if you are chasing a weight loss goal as an additional 500 calories per day can quickly stack up to a weight gain of around 1/2 a kg (1 Ib) per week!
Interestingly the “sleep deprived” group in this study slept just 1 hour and 20 minutes less on average per night - which is not a great deal of missed sleep.
In our modern hectic lives, 1 hour and 20 minutes of sleep time is easily lost by watching a TV show to two at night or working late.
How often do you sleep for 1 hour and 20 minutes less than you should?
Skewed shopping habits
Lack of sleep can affect your food purchasing choices too.
Studies demonstrate that people purchase around 18% more food and 9% more calories when they food shop whilst sleep deprived. The reason behind the additional food purchases probably stems from increased levels of a hunger stimulating hormone called ghrelin which is elevated following a poor night of sleep.
After a bad night’s sleep you are much more likely to reach out for sugary and calorie dense comfort foods to boost your sagging energy levels.
Unfortunately using these types of foods as an energy booster can set your blood sugar on a roller coaster for the entire day and lock you into a viscous cycle of energy crashes and sugary treats.
food on the brain
A 2012 study using special brain imaging technology showed how sleep deprivation heightens the brain’s response to food rewards and activate parts of the brain which increase the desire to eat.
Fighting against your body's biological desire to eat using willpower is a battle you can rarely win!
Poor sleep elevates the stress hormone cortisol which causes water retention and signals the body to store more fat.
Levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin are also spiked by sleep debt, which is shown to increase desire for high calorie foods.
Failing to obtain 7-9 hours of quality sleep at night can have some disastrous effects upon your health and body weight.
The good news is, it’s never too late to start leading a healthier lifestyle! Here are 9 of my top tips to help you improve your quality and quantity of sleep:
#1. limit screen time
Avoid staring at screens from electronic devices such as iPhones, iPads and Tv's for 1-2 hours before bed if you can.
The blue spectrum of light emitted from these devices is proven to inhibit a sleep inducing hormone called melatonin.
To combat this you can either avoid using electronics late at night or create a way to block the blue light from hitting your eyes and telling your brain that its day time.
If you need to use your laptop or IPad at night try installing a screen dimmer such as f.lux or wearing blue light blocking glasses (these aren't made for fashion!) to minimize the negative impacts of sleep inhibiting blue light.
Using dimmer switches to reduce bright lighting in your home, a few candles, or replacing high wattage light bulbs with lower wattage bulbs of warmer colors, such as yellow or orange, are great ways to create sleep promoting lighting.
#2. get outside
Getting some early exposure to outdoor light, especially before noon, can promote quality sleep at night and mitigate the harmful and sleep disrupting effects of blue light after sun down.
If you are going to stare at bright screens at night at least get outdoors under the sun during the day time to send your body the right circadian signals and not totally confuse it!
Your brain can't tel the difference between sunlight and the bright screen of your phone or iPad, so staring at these kinds of electronic devices at night literally sends a signals to your brain to say "the sun is shining - its day time".
If you fail to get outside during the real day time to send your body the same message you can really mess up your body clock.
#3. create your own sleep cave
Creating a pitch black bedroom promotes optimal sleep because when sources of light hit your eyes or skin at night an awakening response can be triggered.
Installing blackout curtains or placing fabrics over your windows is highly recommended as is hunting down and turning off any LED lights that may reside in your bedroom.
Adjust the temperature of your bedroom to somewhere between 60 - 67 F (15.5 - 19.5 C) by opening windows, using lighter more breathable bed sheets, installing ceiling fans or switching on the AC.
Warmer temperatures disrupt sleep so keep cool!
#4. create a relaxing routine
Every BODY likes a routine.
Creating a relaxing routine such as reading a novel, soaking in a hot bath, listening to some relaxing music, taking a gentle walk, doing some light stretching or meditating can shift your nervous system into rest and digest (parasympathetic) mode which induces and supports sleep.
Make a habit of winding down at night by doing something you enjoy- your sleep will benefit from it!
#5. avoid stimulants
Stimulating substances like caffeinated beverages, chocolate and nicotine are best avoided for a few hours before bed.
Caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours meaning it takes your body 6 hours to remove 50% of the caffeine you ingest from caffeine containing drinks or chocolates.
Drinking a cup of tea or coffee too late in the day can easily result in too much caffeine buzzing around your system and impair your sleep.
If you are particularly sensitive to caffeine you may need to limit your consumption to the early morning only.
There is no need to completely remove caffeinated drinks like coffee or tea from your diet if you enjoy these drinks but you may find you sleep better if you avoid them after lunch time.
#6. ditch the electronics
Switching off Wi-Fi routers, mobile phones and IPads, and removing any electrical items like Televisions from your bedroom can improve your sleep.
Many experts believe electrical items such as these emit sleep inhibiting electromagnetic frequencies which overstimulate the brain - even when placed on standby mode.
#7. drink water or herbal teas
Dehydration is a form of stress to your body and causes the release of stress hormones like cortisol which are stimulating and awakening, so try your best to hydrate well.
A good tip is to make sure you drink little and often during the day and avoid chugging down lots of water just before bed as you will likely need to awaken at night to pee.
#8. avoid heavy exercise after dinner
Intense exercise can also spike cortisol levels and impair sleep. On the other hand, doing some exercise earlier in the day is a healthy way to aid a good night’s sleep.
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health but if you find that you have trouble winding down at night and are exercising intensely late in the day, try switching up your schedule to train in the morning or at lunch time instead for a couple of weeks and see how you feel.
#9. get comfortable
Considering you should be spending around 1/3 of your life in bed it makes sense to buy a comfortable high quality mattress and decent pillows.
My advice is to view your bedding as a health investment and buy the best bedding you can afford. Casper are renowned as an excellent and affordable brand for high quality bedding that distribute to various countries. .
Feeling ultra-comfy is a great way to promote deep and restful sleep.
CAN YOU SLEEP LIKE A BABY?
If you are serious about improving your health and losing some weight you will benefit greatly from trying out some of these sleep tips.
I challenge you to choose 2 tips from above and implement them this week.
For bonus points keep a written or mental log of the quality of your sleep and how your energy level, mood, productivity and workouts feel.
If you like the results aim to turn these tips into permanent sleep habits.
Hope you found these tips useful!
If you are feeling confused, frustrated or completely lost about what to eat to lose weight and be healthy shoot me a message to set up a FREE 20 minute phone or Skype consult. We can chat about your goals and outline some diet and lifestyle strategies to get you moving forwards pronto!