If you're trying to eat right and exercise to lose weight as part of your New Year's resolutions, now you can add sleep to your weight loss regime. Research shows that you can sleep your way to a slimmer you. That's a strategy even couch potatoes and exercise-haters can appreciate.
Researchers found that sleep deprived individuals experience six barriers to weight loss. They are more likely to experience intense sweet cravings, are less likely to feel full even after eating a lot of food, are more prone to compulsive overeating and less likely to exercise as much as someone who sleeps more. They also have a tendency toward lean muscle loss and an impaired ability to burn carbohydrates. These six things are significant barriers to weight loss, so ensuring adequate time for sleep is a simple way to help balance your weight and experience better health.
Other research found that fatigue resulting from sleep deprivation actually slows the rate of burning fat. Still other research at the University of Chicago discovered that well-rested women had faster metabolic rates and ate 15 percent less food than women who didn't get sufficient sleep.
According to sleep expert, Dr. William C. Dement, MD, PhD, we need at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night, and some people need even more than that. Dr. Dement also found that our bodies keep track of a sleep debt. If we don't get sufficient sleep on a regular basis it is comparable to making ongoing withdrawals from a sleep account. We need to make up the lost hours soon afterward or our sleep account continues to go further and further into debt. He explains more about his research in his book The Promise of Sleep.
If you're struggling with getting to sleep, here are some simple strategies you can use (from my book 60 Seconds to Slim):
- Avoid eating at least three hours before bed as indigestion, bloating, or heartburn can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Definitely skip the caffeine in the evening.
- Get into a regular evening relaxation ritual: dim the lights, stop working, take a bath, or do something relaxing before bedtime.
- Unplug electronic devices or any blue-light emitting appliances like televisions, smartphones or computers, since the blue light can interfere with sleep cycles. If you need a night light, choose a red bulb, since red light doesn't seem to interfere with the body's ability to fall into a deep state of sleep.
- Stop working at least a few hours before bed. Avoid other mentally-stimulating activities too close to bedtime.
- Go to sleep at the same time each night. Your body will start to adjust to these patterns, helping you to feel sleepy when your bedtime approaches.
- Alan R. Hirsch, MD, author of Life's a Smelling Success, found that smelling pure lavender calmed the entire nervous system in only a minute, helping people to feel more relaxed and sleepier. Sniff some lavender essential oil, flowers, or spray lavender water on your pillowcase (water only since the oil may stain). Be sure to choose organic lavender oil, not fragrance oil, since the latter has no health benefits and may contain toxic substances.
Check out my new book 60 Seconds to Slim.
Article by Michelle Schoffro Cook, from Care2.com