You are eating all the right foods, making all of your training sessions in your exercise plan and the number on the scale is stuck. On the other hand, you have never been over weight, consider yourself active and the scale number keeps slowly creeping up. What’s going on? What other things besides food and exercise might need some focus in your life? You might want to check your sleep. Sleep is as important for health and wellness as good nutrition and a solid exercise program.
There are many factors that play into why the lack of quality sleep impacts your health. Research shows that as little as 30 minutes of lost sleep can make a difference. Disrupted sleep wreaks havoc on the hormones that control hunger and satiety. Your body senses the sleep deprivation as stress which elevates cortisol and that plays a role in both weight gain and loss. If you are tired, you are more likely to skip your workout, crave high sugar foods and have less willpower overall. In a recent article, we discussed the importance of sleep and here are additional items you might want to implement into your daily routine.
Research shows that 7-8 hours of sleep are optimal. To establish a time to be in bed, count back 7 ½ hours from the time you need to get up. Begin your bedtime routine roughly 1 hour before this set time. This allows a “transition” period for your body to recognize environmental cues signaling an end to your day. Try to be consistent in your time to bed and the time you awake in the morning. This consistency will help your body release the necessary hormones at the correct time to calm you down and to wake you up. Hopefully overtime you will start to awaken before your “screaming” alarm, which is a very stressful way to begin your day!
Destress before bed. Stretching for 5-15 minutes before bed releases tension and is beneficial for your body. We have already discussed avoiding the lights from electronics and doing a “brain dump” but you can also place your cell phone on airplane mode before retiring if you leave it on your bedside table. This helps to avoid EMF’s (electromagnetic fields) that are released by electronics that can disrupt sleep and impair your health. Next your sleeping area should be tidy and peaceful. A cluttered environment also clutters or stresses our minds. As for the room temperature, most sleep better in a cooler environment. Experiment with your bedroom temperature to see if you might be one of those people.
Alcohol and caffeine can both interfere with sleep. Avoid caffeine after 2p or earlier if you are more sensitive. It’s best to avoid alcohol all together but if you chose to drink keep it to a minimum at night. Our brains convert starchy carbohydrates to serotonin that helps us to fall asleep so eat them with your dinner. Limit fluids 2-3 hours before bedtime to minimize those annoying bathroom visits and lastly try taking fish oil at bedtime to help fuel your brain for the long night ahead.
Sleep is healing and restorative. It is where our body can reset itself and recover from what we do to it everyday. Quality sleep is as important as any nutrition or exercise program. They all work together to improve your body composition, health and performance. Think about implementing all or just a few of these tricks to get your sleep in check and keep you on a the path to wellness.