Each time you step on that weighing scale, you make a new resolution to lose weight and be healthy. And you start off with a slimming plan that probably looks a lot like this:
- Step 1: Throw out all the junk food
- Step 2: Start exercising regularly
- Step 3: Start on a healthy diet
Sounds like a good plan, right? However, more often than not, you probably miss out on an equally important step, that is, getting a good night’s sleep.
How Does Sleeping Help You to Slim Down?
It doesn’t mean that when you start sleeping, your pounds will magically melt away. Studies have found that if you are sleep-deprived, it affects your ability to shed the excess weight. When you do not have sufficient sleep, it negatively impacts your sensitivity to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps to control blood sugar levels. And reduced insulin sensitivity is directly linked to obesity. Just remember this simple equation:
Not sleeping well = weight gain
Also, when you don’t have enough sleep, you will find yourself having trouble focusing during the day. To combat that, you turn to coffee or snacking in order to keep yourself awake at work. Then, if you have made it through the day unscathed, you might find yourself not wanting to work out (even if you’ve made plans to), because you are simply too tired to do anything else but laze in your bed. As you continue to make these poor choices (caffeine, snacks and lack of exercise), you will soon find the number on the weighing scale creeping upwards steadily. Eeks.
How Can You Sleep Better at Night?
For starters, try implementing these five ways to get a better night’s sleep (and prevent unnecessary weight gain):
1. Avoid Caffeine before Bedtime.
Caffeine is a stimulant. Caffeinated foods, teas and other beverages delay your sleep and cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. Caffeine stays in your body for 8–12 hours after you drink it, so keep this in mind as you reach for that cup! If you must have that cup of coffee or tea, consider decaffeinated coffee or tea. Otherwise, try not to drink either after lunch time.
2. Do Not Eat Two to Three Hours before Bedtime.
Eating later in the evening usually means you will be heading to bed sooner after eating than you would, otherwise. When you head to bed with a full stomach, you will find it difficult to fully relax, fall asleep or stay asleep. You may experience indigestion, bloating, gas or heartburn. This can interfere with your ability to fall into a deep sleep. Eating before you go to bed also slows down metabolism, which results in weight gain.
3. Avoid Distractions.
We are very dependent on our electronic devices, like e-books and smartphones in this age and time. It’s no wonder we always tell ourselves "just one more minute" as we browse through Facebook or Instagram before we hit the sack. The blue light from these electronic devices increases the release of cortisol in the brain, making us alert, while preventing the production of melatonin, a hormone that our bodies need in order to fall asleep. To ensure you get a good night’s sleep, refrain from using any of these electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. Even if you wake up in the middle of the night, resist the urge to check your phone.
4. Create A Cosy Environment to Sleep in.
Your bedroom is not your gym, your office or your playroom. Your bedroom is the place you should associate sleep with. You’ll need to clear out the stuff that are potential distractions, like your laptop, your television or your game consoles. When you use your bedroom for other activities like work, your mind will be kept busy and anxious, because you associate the room with work. So clear out the clutter for a peaceful sleep! Keep your bedroom dark and quiet. Artificial light and noise prevent your body from relaxing fully, and prevent you from falling into a deep sleep. Consider blackout curtains and earplugs to reduce these distractions.
5. Set A Sleep Routine.
Some days, you manage eight hours of sleep. Other days, you crawl into bed at 2 am in the morning. With such an erratic sleep schedule, it is no wonder you constantly feel tired. Fix your sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time every day. Now that you have the tips and tricks ready to help you kick that irregular sleep pattern, say goodbye to the nights spent staring at the ceiling, and mornings where you just cannot bear to roll out of bed. It will be difficult at first, but gradually your body will programme itself to fall asleep and be awake at the right times. This may eventually lead to better weight management. Now, that is a worthy goal.