You’ve tried everything – sleeping pills, going to bed an extra hour earlier, dropping the temperature of your room, removing your nightlight, and even cutting that oh-so-needed caffeine. But for some reason, you still can’t get that restful night’s sleep you desperately need. On top of that, you can’t seem to budge those last ten pounds. No matter what diet or exercise plan you try, your weight yo-yos unless you keep an eye on every single calorie consumed and burnt off at the gym. Did you ever take a second to think about how these two factors could possibly be related?
Sleep is not only important to help you feel energized and ready for that 8:00 am meeting, but it’s also the most natural way to keep your body in tiptop condition. While you sleep your mind is organizing every memory, rebooting your immune system, working through problems and creating checklists, sharpening your coordination skills, producing growth hormones, and boosting your mood (1). When your body is unable to restore itself during a restful night’s sleep, you put yourself on the fast track toward hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity (1).
Read on for science-backed tips that will help you feel happier, healthier, and more beautiful by simply getting the restful night’s sleep you dream of.
Your bed is for sleep.
Not for homework, watching TV, browsing the Internet, completing those stressful work-related assignments, or even arguing. Your mind subconsciously begins to associate your bed with activities besides sleep, causing you to toss and turn for hours before finally falling asleep. Even when you wake up in the middle of the night wide awake, move to a chair or couch to relax until you begin to fall asleep again (1).
Take electronics out of the bedroom.
All of them. That means the TV, your iPad, your computer, and yep, even your phone. The artificial light throws off your body clock and prevents your brain from telling your body it’s time to go to sleep. Which not only prevents you from falling asleep quickly, it also affects your body’s ability to restore all kinds of internal functions (2).
Exercising can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by twelve minutes (1). Not only is exercise good for your over-all health, it aids in setting your body clock, boosting your mood, and encouraging your body to sleep. Just make sure you finish that workout at least three hours before bed (1). It can take up to six hours for your body temperature to decrease after working up a sweat (1).
Sleep more, weigh less
Forget that never-ending to-do list. Put off that last load of laundry until tomorrow. By getting a couple more hours of sleep, you allow your body to completely restore itself. Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep produce more ghrelin (the chemical that stimulates your appetite), which can lead toward an increased BMI and obesity (3)! Forget the calorie counting. Say goodbye to Jenny Craig and Dr. Atkins. Find the time to catch some zzz’s and you will feel happier, healthier, and finally see those last few pounds melt away!
- Michaud S. Bain E. Esther M. Susan. Sleep to be Sexy, Smart, and Slim. Pleasantville, United States: Adult Trade Publishing; 2008.
- Healthy Sleep: Under the Brain’s Control. Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep. December 18, 2007. Available at http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/how/neurophysiology. Accessed July 16, 2012.
- Taheri, S. Lin, L. Austin, D. Young, T. Mignot, E. Short Sleep Duration is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index. Public Library of Science. 2004; e62; 8. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/. Accessed July 16, 2012.
Written by Samantha Tutini, Dietetic Intern with Urban Nutrition, LLC