A good night’s sleep can be elusive to many people. The bad news is—lack of sleep may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts!
How does poor sleep affect weight loss?
If you are sleep deprived, your metabolism will not function properly (your hormones may be out of whack).
The two hormones that are key in this process are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat. When you are sleep-deprived, your body excretes more ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating. When you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin OR you are more resistant to it (researchers aren’t sure). High circulating ghrelin plus a lack of (or resistance to) leptin is a recipe for disaster!
To add to the “hormones out of whack” issue, the more sleep-deprived you are, the more your adrenal glands excrete cortisol. Cortisol stokes your appetite :-(.
Hormones aside, when you’re tired, you’re more likely to make food choices based on whatever is easiest and will make you feel better in that moment.
Hormones that are out of whack combined with a tired brain that can’t make good decisions spells disaster for someone trying to eat better!
So, one thing I tell my San Jose personal training clients is that if they want to have better weight loss results, they MUST take note of their sleep–both quality and quantity.
Here are my top 6 tips for getting better sleep:
1). Support your body’s natural rhythms
-Be careful of napping too long (stick with about 30 minutes)
-Avoid sleeping in too long on weekends
-Attempt to get to bed at the same time each night
2). Control your exposure to light
-Expose yourself to natural light as soon as you can in the morning
-If you work indoors, try to work near natural light
-If you work indoors, get outdoors a few times a day
-Avoid electronic devices right before bed. The LED light interupts melatonin production
-When it is time to sleep, make sure your room is DARK (watch out for LED clocks!)
3). Get regular exercise
-The more vigorous the exercise, the more sleep promoting it is
-Exercise too close to bedtime can interfere with some people’s sleep
4). Be mindful of what you eat and drink
-Be careful about afternoon caffeine
-Avoid big meals late at night
-Figure out if evening alcohol disrupts your sleep in the middle of the night
-Avoid too many liquids in the hour before you go to bed
5). Improve your sleep environment
-Optimal room temperature is 63-67 degrees
-Dim the lights in the 30 minutes leading up to bed
-Keep noise down
-Experiment with pillows, mattress toppers, etc. to find the best bed/pillow combination
6). Wind down/clear your head
-Create bed-time ritual (yoga, stretching, meditation, reading , aromatherapy)
-Create a to-do list for tomorrow…….and then let all the “head chatter” go
If you can improve your sleep/sleep habits over time, you may just start to see excess pounds drop off just a little bit easier!
“I would argue that sleep is probably the most important thing a person can do if they’re ready to lose weight,” –Michael Breus, PhD, sleep specialist
Image credit: www.flickr.com/table4_9