Getting Better Sleep For Weight Loss
“Get a good night’s sleep!”
It’s become so cliche that we tend to tune it out.
The fact is, despite the huge strides we’ve made with health information and medical knowledge in recent years, a great majority of people still don’t get the sleep that is critical – not just for effective weight-loss and healthy metabolism – but for physical, mental and emotional health altogether.
One of the most common causes of sleep deprivation is overactivity. We overstimulate our brains before bedtime.
Kids go to bed, and the favorite show is winking at you from the DVR. You finally have the peace and quiet you’ve been craving since about five minutes after you woke up this morning, and now is the perfect time to binge on the latest crime drama. Or, maybe you start reading that suspense novel you picked up on Amazon, and suddenly it’s like you drank a pint-sized Americano.
Next thing you know, it’s 1:30am and you’re still trying to figure out what comes next in the story. We’ve all been there.
If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy weight though, these are destructive habits that can severely derail you in your efforts to trim down and keep the pounds off.
“Sleep for Weight Loss” studies have shown that when we are well-rested, we feel more satiated, and our brains have an easier time resisting unhealthy temptations.
Here are 7 immediate changes you can make to your “sleep life” that can instantly help in generating better dietary habits that keep off unwanted weight.
1. Plan Your Sleep
You need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night, and preferably 8 hours, to maintain paramount health, and most of us don’t get it.
One of the most common causes of sleep deprivation is simply staying up too late. Yes, I know the feeling of wanting to watch that show you’ve been waiting to binge on, or read that book, or respond to that email you saw come in earlier, but this is where structure and self-discipline have to become paramount.
It may sound weird, but plan your day around your sleep. If you know you need to wake up by 6:30am in order to get your day started, then be sure you’re done with all brain-stimulating activities by 9:30pm. This will give you an hour of “wind down time” which is another important measure for getting better sleep for weight loss.
Things like journaling about your day, having a hot cup of (non-caffeinated) tea, listening to relaxing sounds or music, going through a guided relaxation meditation or massaging a stress ball are all activities you can take up that will help you to prep your mind and body for bedtime.
2. Turn Off Laptop and Smartphone
The radiant light emitted from screens has been shown in studies to be one of the worst sleep thieves.
Turn off the smartphone, iPad and/or TV prior to bedtime. Studies have shown that these devices are the most destructive to sleep.
If you want to read something relaxing prior to bed, and you have a Kindle, then dim the light to give your eyes a break. It’s one of my favorite features of that awesome device.
3. Make Your Bedroom Your Sanctuary
Keep work, laundry, and exercise equipment out of the bedroom so you are not tempted to start working on a bunch of tasks or chores. Tasks and chores, again stimulate the brain and keep us awake longer. If you want to cultivate habits that enable effective sleep for weight loss, keep it tidy and nice around your bed, and ensure a comfortable, cool temperature.
4. “Dump” Troublesome Thoughts Onto Paper
Often thoughts and worries keep us awake at night. If you find yourself struggling to sink into sleep because your mind is racing, it may be a good idea to take 10 minutes and write down your thoughts. Get them out of your head. For many people, this very act itself provides a psychological “dumping” process that lightens the burdensome weight of a racing mind and enables relaxation. Don’t solve these thoughts or problems. That’s not the goal. Simply offload them.
Sleeping apps and meditation apps can also get your thoughts aligned with a peaceful and relaxed disposition at bedtime.
5. Take a Nap
Studies have shown that a mid-day nap is a highly-effective way to generate great sleep habits, and actually help you sleep better during the night.
Grab the nap as early as possible so it doesn’t make it hard for you to sleep later on.
6. Be Aware of Your Personal Food “Vices”
If you’ve slept poorly on a given night, your brain is geared to crave foods and beverages that bring comfort. As most of us know, these are rarely healthy foods and beverages. When you recognize that you’ve had one of these poor sleep nights, prepare your lunch early in the day, and plan out a healthy dinner, to commit yourself to resist urges and temptations throughout the day.
Another good tip here is to carry healthy snacks with you everywhere you go, so that your instinct will be to reach for what’s easy rather than make efforts to go and grab something naughty. Use your fatigue to your advantage here, and take the “lazy” option of eating whatever is “on you”.
7. Use “Weighted” Sleep Aids For Deeper Sleep
If you don’t have one already, you may consider getting a weighted blanked to help get better, deeper sleep. These blankets help release serotonin in the body, which can increase melatonin. They also provide a level of comfort that you won’t get from simply popping a melatonin pill (which by the way, your body can grow accustomed to using, making it tougher to fall asleep when you don’t take it.
SensaCalm is one company that provides weighted products and other sleep aid devices for people who struggle to get sleep. Check them out here.