Healthy Living

Sleep Well To Lose Weight & Enjoy Better Health!

When I was younger, it was almost a badge of honor to say you pulled an all-nighter studying in college. In the restaurant business, my work schedule often ended well after midnight only to begin again early mornings (I hated the Saturday night, Sunday Brunch shift!).  There are late nights out socially, and nights we just toss and turn from thoughts or stress. There’s no amount of caffeine or make-up that can hide sleepless nights. These sleepless nights have one major factor in common: they rob us of our health.

Our bodies work hardest when we’re sleeping. It may seem like a contradiction because we’re not moving or eating. The truth is, that’s when the gazillion cells in our bodies reap the benefits of healthy nutrition. Sleep is always, always important. It’s as important as eating, drinking, and breathing… it’s a foundation of good health.

Here’s how sleep works: there are two types of sleep, non-Rem sleep, or deep sleep, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Our dreams occur during the REM cycle. REM and non-REM sleep occur in cycles each night, typically in a pattern of 3-5 cycles. How well we function and feel when we’re awake depends on how much sleep we get, and the quality of it. Our internal body clock follows a 24-hour repeating rhythm called the circadian rhythm. It’s this rhythm that affects every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies and how well they work.

When we don’t sleep well, we increase the risks of:

  • Gaining Weight: The hormone Leptin, the satiety hormone, is significantly reduced. The hormone Gherlin, the hunger hormone, increases. You wake up hungrier and will eat more. Studies have shown women eat an average of 329 more calories when they wake up hungry.
  • Higher Risk of Illness: the immune system doesn’t function properly. Inflammatory proteins and blood sugar levels rise due to the increased insulin released during the night. Increasing our risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and infection.
  • Risk of Injury Increases: From exhaustion, physically and mentally, injury, errors, and accidents occur.
  • Brain Functions are Impaired: mental performance suffers, impairing your ability to process new information and memories and impacting your overall mood, focus, and high-level cognitive function.
  • Emotions are Impacted: Increased feelings of irritability, anxiety, sadness, and anger are common. You may even find that you are more vulnerable to laughing or crying regardless of what you are experiencing.

So, here we are: deep in the holiday season. Parties, shopping, and let’s face it, lots of temptation from food that doesn’t serve us well. It wreaks havoc on us mentally and physically. Sleep needs to be a priority. Below are 10 tips so you can have a well-rested holiday season:

  1. Start to power down about an hour before bed. Technology will still be there in the morning.
  2. Don’t go to bed on a full, or empty stomach.
  3. Keep your bedroom cool, not too warm.
  4. Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption, especially before bed.
  5. Exercise! That’s right. Work out during the day, sleep better at night.
  6. Go to bed the same time each night, put your body on a clock.
  7. Enjoy a cup of decaffeinated herbal tea, or warm bath. Maybe both?
  8. Thoughts won’t leave your mind? Write them down and put them away.
  9. Practice 8 count breathing. 4 counts in through the nose, 4 counts out through the mouth. Do this several times.
  10. How much sleep do you need? 7 hours, no skimping!

Sleep is necessary for our well-being. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up every morning feeling refreshed, focused, and excited to move through your day?

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