I didn’t realize how important sleep is until recently. Sure, you can make it through the day with suboptimal sleep, but if you are wanting to show up as the best version of yourself and optimize your day, you’ll need to prioritize sleep.
I would say having good sleep is the most important pillar to focus on with weight loss. If you can get your sleep right, you will have fewer food cravings and make better food decisions the next day. Sleep also regulates your hunger hormones and speeds up your metabolism. Have you noticed when you have poor sleep, you are craving sweets and carb-y foods? Studies have shown that people sleeping 4-5 hours a night will eat an extra 400 calories a day.
Poor sleep also reduces insulin sensitivity leading to poor glucose control. Your body perceives this sleep-deprived state as stress and will keep weight on our bodies. You wake up more tired and less likely to be active during the day.
Aside from helping with weight loss, sleep also improves our brain health and mood. Who else has blamed poor sleep for their not-so-great moods?! ?
Ideally, we should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Of course, everyone is different and some may feel rested with more or less. I aim to get 8 hours, however do well with 7 to 7.5 hours.
Here are some tips to optimize your sleep:
- Make your room dark and cool – keep TVs and phones out of your room. If you need your phone with you for emergencies, put it in a drawer so you’re not tempted. Install black out curtains if you work the night shift. If you don’t mind wearing an eye mask, that is a cheap and easy alternative – and also great while traveling. Set your bedroom to about 65F (our room will automatically start cooling to 65F about 30 minutes before bed)
- Exercise! Exercise has a ton of health benefits but will also improve the quality of sleep. Try to avoid exercising right before bed however, as the endorphins may keep you up (a perk to exercise in the morning)
- Take a warm shower before bed – this will signal your body that it’s time for rest. It’s also a great way to decompress from the day.
- Use your bed for sleep and sex only – otherwise your body will associate it with other activities.
- Avoid alcohol before bed – alcohol does help you fall asleep, however disrupts your REM or deep sleep, making the quality of your sleep less than ideal.
- Stop eating 2 hours before bed – Eating right before bed will shift your body’s focus to digesting food and can affect sleep quality.