Sleeping Your Way to Weight Loss

20 03 2014

Ok, I admit the title is a bit misleading, but please read on. Sam Zizzi

In my experience talking with many weight management participants, sleep is one thing many people overlook or take for granted in their path to a healthy lifestyle. You probably already know that good quality sleep is linked to many aspects of your health including your likelihood of getting sick, your recovery from exercise, and your mood.

As for you weight, it is a simple concept to understand the relationship between sleep and weight. If you don’t sleep enough, or the quality is poor, you are tired the next day. To compensate for that fatigue, your body craves energy in the form of calories to stay functional. So, on days you are tired, you may have stronger cravings (or feelings of hunger) that may lead you to consume more than necessary. Multiply that by a few months or years and you could gain substantial weight and become an unhappy, sleepwalking zombie! It is possible to break the cycle, though, if you commit for a couple months to normalize your sleep schedule.

The simplest steps to maximizing your sleep for healthy living are:

1) Establish a consistent wake up time every day, M-F and Sat/Sun. This consistent time helps establish a daily metabolic rhythm, and will lead to predictable hunger and energy patterns. Additionally, a consistent wake up time (if followed) will establish a consistent falling asleep time eventually.

2) Eat something within two hours of waking, and try to combine carbs with protein to maximize the energy boosting effect. Coffee or tea helps too in boosting your morning metabolism which leads to burning more calories throughout the day.

3) Exercise at a consistent time each day. Again, this consistency in exercise leads to a consistent rhythm for your energy levels. There are benefits to exercising every day but research has shown that late afternoon exercise sessions can have the best effect on falling asleep at night.

3) Make the place you sleep an attractive place to relax, and have a transition between your life and sleep. Remove phones, computers, TVs, bright lights. Take a few minutes to allow yourself to unplug from your day, and transition into rest. It is common for this process to take 10-20 minutes.

Life is a cycle of work, play, and rest. We need rest and play for health. To improve your life in this area, follow this advice. “Focus your energy on work, while you are working. Allow yourself to play while you are playing. And commit to rest when its time to rest.”

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