You might have heard me talk about sleep being important for weight loss and it is. If you aren’t getting enough quality sleep it could be preventing you from shedding pounds.
When you are low on sleep it’s easy to want to reach for a quick fix. Grabbing a sugary energy drink or candy bar might help boost our energy levels in the short term but is does us no favors in the long term.
This all has to do with hormones. When you are sleep deprived you have high levels of ghrelin (the “eat more” hormone) and low levels of leptin (the “stop eating” hormone).
Not only that, when you’re sleep deprived your metabolism slows down too. A slow metabolism, plus crazy cravings and zero energy is the perfect storm for weight gain.
So if you’re not getting seven to eight hours of good quality sleep here are six tips to try to get more sleep and hopefully shed some extra pounds.
Stick to a Schedule
The number one tip recommended by the National Sleep Foundation is to create a sleep schedule and stick to it! This is meant to regulate your internal sleep clock so at night you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Set a time to go to bed and a time to wake up and follow through. Avoid hitting the snooze button in the morning and try to get some sunlight when you wake up to signal your body. If you’re going to bed at midnight right now and you’re goal is to go to bed at 10 pm slowly move your bedtime up by half hour increments over a couple weeks.
Get Your Body Moving
Exercise is great way to get a better night’s sleep. It’s hard to fall asleep when you have an entire day’s worth of energy all pent up. The workouts I created for the IdealShape Up Challenge are great because you can do them in less than 30 minutes!
Ideally you would work out at least a couple of hours before bedtime so that your body has a chance to cool down before hopping in bed. Exercise always energizes me so I love to start my day with a workout.
Cut the Late Day Caffeine
An after-dinner coffee or tea might sound relaxing but, in reality, it’s anything but. Try cutting off caffeine after two pm. Even a pre-dinner dose of caffeine can keep you awake well into the night. This includes skipping caffeinated soda at dinner time too.
If drinking a hot cup of tea is part of your evening relaxation ritual try an herbal tea instead, chamomile or sleepy time are perfect for getting your body and mind sleep ready.
Write in a Journal
One study found that people who spent 15 minutes before bed journaling about things they were grateful for, slept better. It’s best if you write in your journal by hand rather than typing it out. The mind body connection strengthens the words and thoughts that you are writing down.
If it’s nervous worrying and fretting that’s keeping you up at night write down a to do list along with how you’re going to check each one off your list. Once you close the notebook or journal you’re not going to worry about it anymore.
To help coax your body off to sleep focus on deep breathing instead of stressful or distracting thoughts. By focusing on your breathing you can draw your mind away from the thoughts that are keeping you from falling asleep.
Take deep breaths in through your nose. You want to breathe through your stomach rather than your chest, so to speak. Hold it for a few moments then slowly exhale through your mouth. If you wake up at night and can’t fall back to sleep try practicing this deep breathing exercise.
Take Time to Wind Down
Set aside 20 minutes to an hour to wind down before your set bedtime. This is your time to pack lunches for the next day, wash your face, brush your teeth, write in your journal and practice your deep breathing.
Not only will this help you get to bed at your established bedtime your body will get used to the schedule. Starting your pre-bedtime ritual will be like setting a timer and your mind and body will be ready for sleep when you are.
Try these tips to get a better night’s sleep. Not only will you feel well rested, motivated and full of energy you might just end up losing a few extra pounds along the way. Sweet dreams!