Everyone experiences a restless night now and again, due to a wide variety of reasons. In fact, the CDC has determined that one in three adults do not get enough sleep. What is considered enough? For adults between the age of 18 to 60, it’s an average of seven or more hours a day. For those one in three people, the associated risk of frequent lack of sleep includes chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and frequent mental distress. So how does the amount of sleep we achieve impact us in terms of weight loss? Keep reading to learn the potential long-term effects, as well as tips to achieve adequate rest.
How Poor Sleep Affects Your Mind and Body
Dieting requires more than healthy eating. You must have the right mindset and be physically healthy in order to maintain the necessary lifestyle to lose weight. When we lack sleep, these are two areas significantly affected. Commonly, the ability to function properly goes down the drain. Your memory can suffer, reaction time decreases and our ability to regulate emotions becomes difficult.
In addition, sleep helps regulate our body temperature, and releases essential hormones. The lack of sleep affects the production of these hormones, which can lead to premature wrinkling and sagging skin, as well as feeling colder than usual. Our immune system is also compromised, resulting in an increased risk of infection or disease. Finally, our appetite can go into overdrive. Our ability to determine if we are satiated is affected, causing us to eat more and gain weight.
How Poor Sleep Can Affect Your Diet
Unfortunately, all of these side effects take a toll on our ability to properly maintain a healthy diet or meet weight loss goals. When we are tired, we often mistake our discomfort for hunger, leading us to eat too much or unnecessarily. This makes portion control difficult and cravings hard to control. Impulse can become particularly hard to overcome.
It can also deal a harsh blow to our metabolism. Too little sleep can cause a spike in cortisol, a hormone that signals our body to conserve energy. Therefore, our body will reduce its normal use of whatever fat is available, and preserve it. Similarly, our body also becomes less sensitive to insulin, which turns sugars, starches, and other foods into energy. Unable to process fats effectively, or body will also store the incoming fats in excess.
How to Get a Good Night’s Rest
While at times it may not seem likely, getting a good night’s rest is not impossible. Specific conditions can make it difficult, but several lifestyle measures can help you get back on track.
To prevent the previously mentioned side effects, try to follow these steps on how to sleep better:
1- Follow your natural sleep-wake cycle – By following your body’s natural circadian rhythm, you will sleep a similar number of hours each night, so that you consistently wake up feeling refreshed and energized. To help, avoid sleeping in, even on the weekend. Similarly, do not go to bed too early, or you may wake up in the middle of the night. If you are struggling during the day and must nap, do not sleep for more than 20 minutes.
2- Be cautious of your exposure to light – A naturally occurring hormone, melatonin, is controlled by light exposure and regulates our sleep-wake cycle. When it is dark, your brain secretes more melatonin. To stay awake for adequate hours, expose yourself to direct sunlight, especially in the morning. At night, use soft lights and do not use devices within one to two hours of your bedtime.
3- Exercise regularly – Regular exercise for just 10 minutes a day can drastically improve your sleep. The more vigorous, the better the benefits. However, you should not exercise too late into the evening, or it may have a re-energizing effect.
4- Eat well – How you eat overall is important, but especially leading up to your bedtime. Do not consume caffeine, alcohol or sugary drinks that may interfere with your energy levels. Drinking too many liquids may also make you have to urinate frequently during the night. Spicy or heavy meals can cause heartburn or indigestion, and make staying asleep difficult.
5- Wind down before bed – Many people work themselves into a fit when they can not fall asleep. Instead of making sleep a goal, try to calm your mind down. Do this by limiting your activity levels before bed, and staying off of stimulating technology. For additional help, try learning to meditate, with the help of the app Headspace.
At Solutions Weight Loss, we understand that there is more to weight loss than a diet.
With our licensed and friendly medical staff, you will have the encouragement and guidance necessary to help you reach your goals.Contact us today to schedule an appointment, and get started on your path to a healthier lifestyle.