More and more research is showing just how important getting enough sleep is for maintaining a healthy weight.
Getting 7 hours of sleep is the minimum recommended with 9 hours being the maximum. Many studies show that people who have a short sleep duration simply weigh more.
Lack of sleep contributes to weight gain in four ways: you have more time to eat, your hunger hormones get out of kilter, your metabolism may slow down, and you exercise less.
The great news though is that lack of sleep is considered a “modifiable risk factor”. While there are many reasons why people may not get enough sleep, we often have some power over it. Here are some tips you might want to consider:
1 – Make sleep a priority.
For some of us, we don’t get enough sleep because we simply give other activities priority. Making something a priority will help you achieve it.
2 – Create a routine.
Your body loves routine. Some different ways to build bedtime routine are to:
• Choose something that you enjoy and will help to relax your body and mind and prepare it for a good night’s sleep, whether it be a warm bath, or reading a book.
• Have a consistent bedtime. This will train your brain, your body’s clock (circadian rhythm), and sleep hormones to follow suit.
3 – Get some exercise and sunshine during the day.
Of course exercise and sunshine have many health benefits. They also tell your brain that it’s daytime, so it can help to set your body’s clock.
Tip: Be sure to finish exercise at least three hours before bedtime, as it may stimulate some people and keep them awake.
4 – Stop eating and drinking a couple of hours before bed.
• Cut out your bedtime snack. You will eat fewer calories, and you may even have a better night’s sleep and wake up more alert.
• Refrain from drinking fluids a few hours before bed so you’ll reduce the need to go the bathroom in the middle of the night.
• Reduce the exposure of your body to chemical stimulation (such as through caffeine and cigarettes) as the day progresses.
5 – Lower your lights when the sun goes down.
If your brain thinks it’s daytime it will not make the sleep hormone melatonin so it can stay awake. So, having bright white (or blue-ish) lights can trick your brain into thinking that it’s daytime.
So, you can dim your lights, buy amber/red light bulbs and/or blue-blocker glasses, and turn off electronics (or at least use the f.lux or twilight apps). If you do need to go to the bathroom during the night, don’t turn on the light (if you can do so safely).
6 – Keep your bedroom comfortable.
Having a room that is too hot, bright, or noisy can keep you from having a good night’s sleep. Ideally your room will be cool, completely dark, and either silent or with white noise.
7 – Get light as soon as you wake up.
Turn on the lights or open the blinds as soon as you wake. This tells your brain to wake up and start the day.