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Self-Care Essentials for Weight Loss: Why Sleep is Your Number One Priority

Are you wondering what sleep has to do with weight loss?

Many of us don’t get enough sleep. Do you know that sleep is one of the keys to weight loss? Setting up a nighttime routine can help improve your sleep habits.

Have you ever flown on an airplane?

Every time I fly the flight attendant reminds me that if there is a loss of cabin pressure, make sure to put the oxygen mask on myself before putting a mask on my child. We tend to put others first and our instinct might be to put the mask on those that we love first. But if we don’t take care of ourselves, we will be unable to help others around us. Our good intentions won’t help anyone if we can’t function to help them.

Today I want to share with you an important self-care habit to ensure that you are operating at your highest level to give yourself the best chance to optimize your weight loss.

You. Must. Sleep.

Sleep is vital. According to the Centers for Disease Control more than 35% of people are sleep deprived (1). It is recommended that you get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that those that got only 5.5 hours of sleep lost less body fat than if they got more sleep (2). If you are not getting enough sleep you are sabotaging your efforts and decreasing the effectiveness of all the things you did right during the day.

It’s All About the Hormones

Your weight is controlled by several different hormones in your body. Lack of sufficient sleep affects these hormones and can affect your weight.

Insulin is a fat storage hormone. It allows your cells to take in glucose from carbohydrates to be used for energy. Lack of sleep causes decreased insulin sensitivity (insulin resistance) leading to increased fat storage. When you are insulin resistant, your body produces more insulin to compensate. Any extra glucose in your system gets stored as fat.

Ghrelin is increased which causes increased hunger signals and a decreased metabolism. That is certainly a bad combination!

Decreased leptin means your stomach feels empty leaving you longing for more. Leptin is the hormone that signals when you are full. So when leptin is not working you lose the signal that tells you that it’s time to stop eating.

Cortisol is a stress hormone that can be released when you are sleep deprived. This can lead to an increased desire for food. High cortisol levels increase appetite. This is what is commonly called “stress eating.” 

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) promotes a healthy metabolism and enhances your performance. Sleep and exercise promote the release of human growth hormone. Most of the release comes during sleep. Sleep is when the body does its restorative work. HGH works to restore and repair your body while you sleep. 

Sleep is essential to allow your body to heal, repair and for your hormones to balance naturally. Quality sleep is just as important in your weight loss journey as eating and exercise. 

Your Assignment

Increase the likelihood of a good night’s sleep. Turn off screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Even better if you can turn them off 2 hours before bed.

Avoid caffeine after noon.

Don’t eat 2 hours before bed. If your body is digesting when you go to bed it delays the restorative processes of sleep.

Make sure your room is dark and quiet. Dim lights in your house as it gets closer to bedtime. This helps signal your brain that it’s almost time for sleep. 

Develop a bedtime routine. Stick to a schedule. Your body likes routines. Set a bedtime and stick to it as much as possible. Finish your night off with writing 3 things you’re grateful for. It makes a difference to end your day with a sense of thankfulness.

Don’t set snooze alarms. Pushing snooze multiple times just means that your last bit of sleep is completely interrupted. Sleep until the alarm goes off and then 5,4,3,2,1…get up and be awesome!

Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html
  2. http://annals.org/aim/article/746184/insufficient-sleep-undermines-dietary-efforts-reduce-adiposity

 

About the Author Tammy Fuller

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