Sleep: Will It Really Help with Weight Loss?

Experts agree that getting enough sleep is as important to your health, well-being and your weight as diet and exercise.

Sleep is like nutrition for the brain and most people need between 7 and 9 hours each night. Any less than that and your brain will react in ways that lead even the most determined dieter straight to Jeni’s ice cream (my favorite brand and impossible to resist when I’m worn down and tired…).

Are you sleeping through the night?

Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?

Do not fear, I have some great tips and a recipe for you!

Sleep is complicated

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.  People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation.  And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)

Knowing this it’s easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:

  • To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
  • To improve the brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity.”
  • To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

Too litlle sleep will trigger an increase of the body’s stress hormone, corisol. This stress hormone sends out a smoke signal for your body to conserve energy so you have fuel for your waking hours. What this means for weight loss: you’re more likely to hang on to fat.

Chances are without enough sleep you will also feel hungrier during the day and less satisfied after meals and craving carbs. Your body also doesn’t properly respond to insulin when you’re tired, and also has trouble processing fats from your bloodstream (which end up getting stored as fat instead of used for fuel).

It’s not so much that if you sleep you’ll lose weight, but that too sleep impedes your metabolism and contributes to weight gain.

So aim not to skimp on your nightly ZZZs! ! (Don’t worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)

 

Tips for better sleep

  • The biggest tip is definitely aim to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it.  This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off.  Days. A. Week.  I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.
  • Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber).  Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavored snack).  Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat.
  • During the day get some sunshine and exercise.These things tell your body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active, and alert.  By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
  • Turn out the lights in your bedroom. Darkness cues your body to release melatonin (your body’s natural sleep hormone) while light suppresses melatonin.
  • Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing. Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte.  Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).
  • Keep your bedroom a sanctuary for only rest and romance—no TV, work, or studying.
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading a physical book (not an “e” book) or having a bath.
  • Eliminate alcohol, which can actually act as a stimulate and keep you awake.

So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?

Caffeine-Free Chai Latte

Serves: 1-2

You can try this with other nut butters to see which flavor combination you like best.
Ingredients
  • 1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
  • 2 dates (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.
  2. Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.
  3. Blend until creamy.
  4. Serve and enjoy!
 

 

 


Carolyn S. Barnes, CHC, LMT

Carolyn is an integrative health coach, speaker, Reiki Master and the author of Return to Ease: Gently Reconnect with Your Body’s Natural Mobility and Joy.

She writes and speaks from a personal place–her own journey of healing from various health issues (including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and obesity) and opening to her inner wisdom. Her mission at Return to Ease is to help women who want to experience natural weight management and reconnect with their personal power and true essence. This integrative process of reconnection allows her clients to align their hearts, minds, and bodies while creating a more sacred life filled with health, ease, and joy.

Carolyn received her coaching training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. She specializes in helping women who struggle with emotional/stress eating lose weight, gain control,  and experience ease with food and their lives. As a result, her clients experience a newfound appreciation of their bodies, no longer obsess over food, and witness an amazing transformation of more ease and joy in their lives.

To learn more about Carolyn, apply to be a coaching client, order a copy of her book, or book Reiki session, please visit her website.


References:

http://www.thepaleomom.com/gotobed/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/hacking-sleep


 

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