Sleep and Weight Loss: How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep to Help You Lose Weight
When getting started on our weight loss journey, we become more and more aware of the various factors that can either hinder or boost our progress. While diet, exercise, and beneficial lifestyle habits seem to be a no-brainer when it comes to their effect on healthy living, more questions are being asked about how essential sleep is to weight loss.
So, does sleeping help you lose weight? Though shedding pounds while you sleep isn’t exactly the answer, the former most definitely affects the latter. Numerous studies have been conducted that demonstrate how a better, more consistent night’s sleep can help our bodies function at optimal levels, having a huge impact on losing weight and keeping it off. Below are six ways sleep can help you lose weight.
6 Ways Sleep Can Affect Weight Loss
- Sleep Reinforces the Decision-Making Area of the Brain—The brain’s frontal lobe is responsible for decision-making and impulse control. When we don’t get enough sleep, the activity in the frontal lobe is dulled, causing us to be more likely to make bad decisions surrounding healthy eating and living. After an adequate night’s rest, our brain is alert and equipped to help us make decisions that move us closer to our weight loss goals.
- Less Sleep Means Increased Cortisol—Poor sleep has been linked to increased levels of cortisol, our hormone that plays an important role in responding to stress and regulating metabolism. When the brain senses that our body needs to slow down because of feeling tired, cortisol plays a role in slowing down our metabolic rate in order to store fat for energy. Needless to say, if you’re trying to lose weight, storing fat should be avoided at all costs, making high cortisol levels undesirable and counteractive.
- Better Sleep Leads to More Energy for Exercise—Another important factor to losing weight is burning fat through exercise. When our bodies are lacking proper amounts of rest, we are less likely to participate in physical activity and more likely to stress eat and act impulsively. Prioritizing a minimum of seven hours of slumber mentally and physically prepares us for a healthy, productive day ahead.
- Adequate Shuteye Has Restorative Benefits—Getting enough sleep can also promote physical and mental recovery that supports your weight loss journey. This is especially true if your weight loss habits include strenuous exercise in order to burn fat and build healthy mass. Building muscle requires ample amounts of rest and restoration. Making sure you get adequate sleep guarantees that your body gets the recovery time that it needs.
- Inadequate Sleep Can Cause Hormonal Imbalances—Numerous hormones are involved in regulating hunger. While the hormone leptin is involved in decreasing hunger and ghrelin in increasing hunger, endocannabinoids are linked to snack cravings. An inadequate night’s rest can cause shifts in the very fine balance of these hormones, leading to overeating or indulging the next day.
- Little Sleep Can Lead to Insulin Resistance—The higher levels of cortisol that arise from less sleep have the capacity to make cells more resistant to insulin. As cells become more resistant, they have more difficulty absorbing glucose from the blood. These high levels of glucose that result from under-absorption trigger the body to produce more insulin. A constant cycle of high glucose and insulin resistance can lead to greater risk for diabetes and obesity.
6 Tips For a Good Night’s Sleep
Recognizing how sleep and weight loss are connected to a healthy lifestyle is essential to helping us achieve our goals. However, between busy days, late nights, being over-stimulated, and dealing with the stressors of daily life, a good night’s sleep is often hard to come by.
Achieving the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night starts with incorporating healthy habits, relaxation techniques, and developing a consistent bedtime routine. Here are six tips that can help you achieve a healthy night’s rest.
- Stop Screentime At Least One Hour Before You Hit the Hay—Studies have shown that blue light exposure can interfere with our circadian rhythm, fooling our brain into thinking that it’s still daytime. This confusion can impede on our body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that aids in sleep and relaxation. Cutting out screens and electronics, including phones, laptops, iPads, and TV at least one hour before bedtime eliminates this late-in-the-day blue light exposure, promoting greater relaxation and better sleep.
- Prioritize a Cozy Bedroom Environment—Creating a comfortable, restful bedroom is another essential step to prepping yourself for a good night’s sleep. Implement relaxing additions such as an essential oil diffuser, or spring for a nicer mattress or cozy set of sheets. Another tip that will help you create a peaceful place involves making an intentional effort to keep work away from the bedroom. Designating the space for sleep and unwinding time will promote nothing more than stress-relief and relaxation.
- Establish a Relaxing Bedtime Routine—Another way to set yourself up for sleeping success is to establish an easy-to-follow routine that promotes relaxation. Try including a warm shower or bath, deep breathing, or reading before lights out to slow down and unwind.
- Follow a Schedule—Sticking to a schedule is another beneficial technique to optimize sleep and weight loss. Going to bed and waking up around the same time each day can regulate our circadian sleep rhythms and promote better-quality sleep that lasts long-term.
- Avoid Caffeine After 2 pm—While caffeine is great for boosting focus and increasing energy, consuming a caffeinated beverage too late in the day can keep our body from relaxing naturally when it’s time to get some shuteye. Because caffeine remains active in your body for up to eight hours, it’s important to avoid consumption later in the day. If you’re craving your favorite cup of joe, try decaffeinated coffee or go for a rich-tasting cup of herbal tea.
- Opt for Lights Out—Our last tip for a good night’s sleep is all about lights out. By minimizing the lights in your room and creating a completely dark, tranquil space, you allow your body to fully relax. This promotes better, uninterrupted slumber and gives you the best chance at achieving deep sleep.
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