It’s a commonly known fact that most people don’t get enough sleep. In fact, there are more traffic accidents caused by sleepy drivers than drunk drivers. But what most don’t know is that being sleep deprived can lead to obesity. If you’re having trouble losing weight there’s a good chance that sleep is one of the culprits.
Even if you aren’t overweight, lack of sleep can still be affecting you. Lack of sleep messes with our hormones in general, which can lead to weight gain, PMS, and even insulin resistance. Research has shown that just one week of insufficient sleep is enough to hinder carbohydrate metabolism. Sleep is also required for your body to recover from both work and exercise. This includes physical and mental recovery. If you aren’t sleeping regularly and enough, you won’t recover well, and can also cause some premature aging. Dreaming is also required to help the body store long term memories, therefore being sleep deprived will hinder your memory in addition to simply fogging up your thinking. Any way you slice it, sleep deprivation is bad for you.
Tips for Better Sleep:
1. Go to bed by 10pm, no matter what. And as best you can, stay on the same sleep schedule. Human beings are creatures of habit, and your sleep habit should be as consistent as possible. Get to bed by 10pm as often as humanly possible, 11pm at the latest. Also, don’t sleep in. Sleeping-in on the weekends is not a reasonable solution for poor sleep during the week. In fact, when you sleep in, you make it harder to get up during the week.
2. Eliminate Caffeine after 3pm. Caffeine has a half life of about 5 hours. Which means if you have the average cup of coffee at 5pm, 100mg of caffeine, you still have 50mg floating around in your blood at 10pm. Coffee in the morning is fine, but as the day goes on your caffeine intake should taper off. Don’t have more than 2-3 cups of coffee (or the equivalent amount in another form), and don’t have any caffeine after 3pm.
3. Turn the TV and computer off after 9pm. The screens from these devices are actually quite bright, and the human body sees them as sunlight. This means it blunts the production of sleep hormones and makes it harder to fall asleep. Turning them off by 9pm will help the body wind down, and make getting to bed at 10pm easier. Spend this time getting a couple things around the house done, maybe a little reading, a relaxing bath/shower, etc.
4. Don’t check email or read non-fiction. Email has the potential to reveal an emergency, which increases adrenalin, cortisol and other stress hormones. It’s impossible to relax and go to sleep when your body is in fight or flight mode. In this case, ignorance is bliss. And reading non-fiction is bad for most people because it engages the mind. When the mind is engaged in learning something, it will start projecting into the future and planning, which often continues long after you’ve put down the book. Both of these can cause your brain to stay awake thinking about what you have to do, or what you could do. It’s best to read some fiction, which encourages relaxation and imagination.
5. Take a magnesium supplement before bed. Statistically speaking most people are magnesium deficient. Additionally magnesium has a calming/relaxing effect on the body. I recommend that my clients take a product called ZMA because in addition to helping people sleep it helps to normalize certain hormones in the body, resulting in greater fat loss.
6. Eliminate as much light as possible from your room. Our body’s need darkness to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone. If your room is too bright, you won’t be able to manufacture as much melatonin, even if you’re eyes are closed. Do your best to make your room as dark as the inside of a cave on a moonless night. If necessary, buy a sleep mask.
7. Keep your sleeping room sacred. Don’t have a TV in your bedroom, no radio, and your laptop should never be allowed past the doorway. If you’re a kid, or a college student, and you essentially live in one room, you’re stuck. But for the rest of us, the bedroom should be a room devoted to sleep and relaxation. If you’re used to doing work in bed, then that’s what your brain associates your bed with, not sleep. Make your bedroom a sacred place devoted to rest and recovery, and you’ll have a much easier time getting to sleep.
Do half of the above suggestions for a week and see if you don’t have the best sleep you’ve had in years. You’ll also find you look and feel better.
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