If you’re someone who struggles with getting regular nights of restorative sleep AND you are also trying to manage your weight, this article is full of tips, strategies and solutions.
Realising just how important the triple combination of good-quality sleep, regular exercise and the right eating plan for your body is for weight loss can make it easier for you to achieve your goals.
Many people simply don’t get enough good-quality sleep, with 7 to 9 hours a night the recommended optimum. Lack of sleep may even reduce your lifespan by years.
Not achieving the right amount of sleep can cause at least 8 negative side effects:
- Reduced basal metabolic rate, or the number of calories you burn at rest.
- Interferes with carbohydrate metabolism, causing higher levels of blood glucose, higher insulin levels and greater body-fat storage that’s associated with weight gain.
- The hormone leptin, which signals satiety, that enough food has been eaten, is reduced.
- The hormone ghrelin, which causes hunger especially for sweet foods and starchy carbohydrates, is increased. Recall those nights when you did not get a good night’s sleep. Were you inclined to consume sweet, starchy “pick-me-up” foods?
- The growth hormone, which helps regulate body composition, is reduced.
- Causes lower energy levels, leading to reduced exercise and daily movement.
- Can decrease your self-control and decision-making abilities, and lead to an increased intake of foods high in calories, fats and carbs, late-night snacking and increased portion sizes.
- Can increase blood pressure and heart disease risk.
Lack of good-quality sleep dramatically alters the way the body responds to food.
To improve your sleep, we recommend a number of strategies:
- Sleep planning – start by knowing when you need to be awake each morning, and include time for exercise, meditation, prep and organisation for the day including breakfast and what time you need to be out the door or at your home office desk. Now work back from there by 8 or 9 hours and that’s the time you need to be in bed and ready for sleep.
- Develop regular sleep-wake patterns – Go to bed and get up the same time each day, weekday or weekend. Avoid naps, unless you usually take them and try to get the same amount of sleep each night.
- Have your bed-time rituals – these signal the body that it’s time to sleep. Some rituals include: dimming lights or using candles, reading books instead of screen-time, warm shower or bath in Epsom salts, herbal tea, yoga or meditation, journaling – find what works for you.
- Cool head and warm feet – to reduce your core temperature and allow sleep, ensure that your bedroom temperature is cool (around 18C), blankets are light and air is circulating but that your feet are warm.
- Invest in your bedding – get a great pillow that supports your neck and replace annually. Rotate your mattress twice a year, and quality linen made from cotton, linen or bamboo help regulate your body temperature.
- Daily movement – exercise increases endorphins (the feel-good hormone) to assist in dealing with stress. Just don’t exercise intensely to close to going to bed as it may keep your core temperature too high. Any after dinner stroll is fine and may help your sleep.
- Get some daily sunshine – a 10-minute walk in the morning sunshine may help normalise your circadian rhythms. Morning sunshine helps with sleep that evening.
- Rotate your sleeping position – sleeping on your stomach can cause back and neck strain, sleeping on your back may cause back pain and sleeping on your side may help you breathe more easily and be more comfortable.
- Don’t try too hard – while you are learning your new sleep habits, if you find you’re struggling to get to sleep, find something to do that will calm you, it may be reading a novel, listening to music, meditation, deep breathing – until you feel drowsy and your eyes start to close.
- One or two caffeinated drinks (coffee or tea) in the morning is fine, but be aware that the stimulant caffeine may affect you for 8 hours, and so you may want to avoid it after midday. Some studies suggest caffeine can stay in your system even up to 12 hours.
Some other things to be aware of that may help your sleep quality:
- Heavy curtains to darken the room.
- Eye covers that block out light.
- Use ear plugs to reduce noise (street noise, neighbourhood noise, snoring partner etc…). If your bedtime partner snores and is carrying some extra weight around the tummy, you could suggest they follow your meal plan.
- Move all electronic devices outside the room.
- Avoid caffeine after lunch.
- Avoid or minimise alcohol with dinner. It may relax you but all studies suggest that it worsens sleep quality.
- Limit spicy foods at night.
- Mouth tape can help with nose breathing.
- Taking magnesium powder in water before bed.
- Keep a notepad and pen to jot down any thoughts before sleep, or if you wake up with these thoughts. This will help your mind relax as it knows it does not have to remember the thought. Do not keep appointments in your head. Use a paper or digital diary that your mind trusts.
- Keep a glass of water beside your bed.
- If you suffer gastric reflux (GERD) this may waken you through the night. Don’t be surprised if a change in your eating plan like our Reset Phase 1 improves symptoms. If not, talk to your doctor.
- If you suffer bladder issues that wake you up through the night, speak to your doctor.
- If you have chronic sleep problems, your doctor can refer you to a sleep clinic.
We are all different so take 1 or 2 of these strategies that appeal to you, implement and monitor if your sleep improves. Record your sleep quality in your Daily Planner so that you can play detective linking one or more behaviours with your sleep quality.
Add some more options over time and gauge your body’s response until you have your own good-sleep rituals. And then watch your weight and health improve.
Please share if you know of someone who may benefit from these tips.