How Sleep Can Affect Weight Loss
When you think about your weight, whether you are hoping to maintain your healthy figure or you are trying to drop a few pounds, you probably already know the basics. Eat the right number of calories everyday, maintain a balanced diet according to the food pyramid, and increase your activity by exercising whether in the gym or the great outdoors.
However, there is probably one aspect of how your body deals with weight that you probably haven't considered. According to recent research conducted by Sanjay Patel, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Case Western University, "there are over two dozen studies that suggest that people who sleep less tend to weigh more."
Another study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicates that lack of sleep can affect how your body regulates your appetite. Sleeping less can cause you not only to crave more food, but also to crave foods higher in fat and carbohydrates. In addition, bouts of insomnia can alter your metabolic rate, slowing it down and causing you to burn fewer calories. Lastly, people who sleep less tend to feel more fatigued and, therefore, exercise less.
But don't despair. There are ways that you can combat your sleepless nights. First of all, don't drink caffeine for approximately six hours before your bed time. Caffeine is a stimulant and will block your brain's ability to produce adenosine, one of the chemicals that help induce sleep. In addition to caffeine, most doctors will recommend that you keep your fluid intake to less than one cup in the four hours leading up to your bedtime. This will limit your body's need to relieve fluids in the middle of the night and allow you to sleep more soundly throughout the night.
Another important tip in falling asleep easily is to set aside thirty minutes to an hour before your bedtime. Use this time to allow your brain and body to relax. Rather than stimulating your brain with television, computer games, or Internet usage, calm your brain by reading a book, taking a bath, or meditating. Furthermore, if you perform these relaxing activities at the same time every night, your brain will train itself to recognize these signals, and you will have fewer and fewer difficulties falling asleep at your allotted bedtime.
Lastly, when you do wake up in the mornings, stay up. Get outside and get some sunlight. Get to the gym and exercise. One study at Duke University showed that physically fit men fell asleep in half the time it took for more sedentary men. Also, studies have shown that taking naps in the afternoon can affect your ability to fall asleep later in the evening, so avoid lying down in the afternoon even for thirty minutes. Those thirty minutes can cost you an hour or more when you are trying to fall asleep that night.
With additional benefits such as lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, less stress and anxiety, and increased energy associated with healthy sleeping habits, you really can't afford to miss out on a good night's sleep. And why do all of the hard work counting your calories and logging hours on the treadmill without doing the easy part of getting 7-8 hours of rest every night?
So the next time you're thinking about staying up late, use some smart sleeping tips to help you close those eyes and get some shut-eye. Those extra winks might just ensure that all that time you spend worrying about your waistline is just a waste of time.