Turns out if you want to lose weight, dieting and exercise aren’t the only variables that you need to focus on. Are you getting enough sleep? That’s right sleep is a another variable other than healthy eating and exercise that will help you achieve your optimal weight.
Our bodies produce two hormones that act on certain areas of the brain to autoregulate our appetite. Those hormones are:
- Leptin: this is the hormone that reduces appetite
- Ghrelin: is the hormone that triggers hunger.
Studies have shown that short sleep cycles are associated with decreased Leptin and increased Ghrelin levels. Thus hunger and appetite are increased.
Here are some things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene:
1. Keep the room dark. Light inhibits the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that naturally promotes sleep. Set the mood in your room by turning out the lights. Wear an eye mask. Lastly, avoid turing on a bright light if you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The bright light will stimulate you.
2. Avoid caffeinated beverages or don’t drink caffeinated beverages after lunch. Caffeine is a stimulate and also it acts as a diuretic, meaning it causes increased urination.
3. Regular exercise promotes healthy sleep.
4. Avoid long naps during the day.
5. Set a regular bedtime. Aim to sleep 7 to 8 hours per night.
6. Eliminate technical stimulants. Don’t go to bed with your smartphone, tablet or lap top. Also keep the television out of the room or turn it off before you go to bed. If you wake up during the night fight the impulse to reach for your electronic devices and avoid turning on the television.
7. Keep the temperature cool. Research shows that those who suffer from insomnia have a higher core body temperature than normal sleepers. If your body is too warm you will not be able to maintain your sleep.
8. Invest in a comfortable bed.
9. Avoid heavy meals two hours before bed. A heavy meal before bed has a tendency to cause stomach discomfort thus triggering night time awakenings.
10. Stop drinking fluid two hours before bed and empty your bladder before going to bed. This should reduce frequent bathroom trips in the night.
11. Rest your mind. Life is stressful, it’s often inevitable that you go to bed with racing thoughts. Meditation can calm your mind. Also if you are spiritual pray and thank God for the blessings that occurred that day.
We need to sleep well in order to feel rested and productive. But now we know sleeping 7 to 8 hours per night can assist with your weight loss efforts. Make sure you are getting enough sleep.
by Marjorie Binette, MD