Research has shown that the amount of sleep people get is directly related to their overall health and weight loss. Short periods of sleep (less than seven hours per night) have been linked to increased obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, frequent mental distress, and death. Today, many people do not get the proper amount of sleep, which for adults, is seven or more hours per night. While fat-free body mass is maintained more efficiently during decreased energy intake, this occurs only when people get the proper amount of rest. Getting inadequate sleep may negatively affect a person’s dietary efforts and reduce their metabolism.
Benefits of Sleep
Sleep Can Improve Physical Activity
A study conducted with 15 healthy men of average weight showed that reduced sleep could decrease the amount of time that people may spend doing intense physical activity. However, on a positive note, a study of college basketball players showed that with an increase in their sleep (10 hours per night), they had increased vigor, sprint speed, reaction time, and shooting accuracy – as well as a decrease in fatigue. Research shows: sleep can help improve athletic performance.
Sleep Helps People Make Healthy Food Choices
A study on a group of healthy men and women found a relationship between a lack of sleep and overeating. Indeed, there is a change in brain activity associated with sleep deprivation, such as decreased resistance to tempting foods, decreased frontal lobe activity (the decision-making and self-control center of the brain), and stimulation of the brain’s reward centers. Yes, a piece of chocolate cake is much more appealing with lack of sleep.
Sleep Helps Prevent Insulin Resistance
One study found that insulin resistance can occur after only a few nights of reduced sleep. Insulin resistance can lead to both weight gain and Type 2 diabetes. Insulin is a hormone in the body that causes the movement of glucose or sugar from the bloodstream into the cells. Once in the cells, glucose can be used for energy. When cells develop insulin resistance, more sugar stays in the bloodstream and raises blood sugar levels, which causes the body to produce even more insulin. This vicious cycle leads to increased hunger and tells the body to store more calories as fat. Therefore, it is important to get a good night’s rest to help your brain support personal health and weight management goals.
Tips to Get a Healthy Night’s Sleep
Sleepfoundation.org defined sleep hygiene as adopting daytime and nighttime habits to improve sleep. The following are several tips to help promote better sleeping habits.
Create the Right Bedroom Environment
To help you drift off to sleep more easily, you should create the right bedroom environment. The bedroom should be dark, cool, and quiet. Also, to avoid associating your bed with work or other stimuli, it should be set aside for sleeping and sex only. Finally, you should invest in a quality mattress, pillows, or bedding to increase your comfort.
Stick to a Schedule
Individuals should wake up and go to bed at the same time. Also, they should not skimp on sleep and then try to catch up on missed sleep by sleeping in on weekends. A better idea is to take a short nap in the early afternoon to make up for the sleep debt. Finally, and probably the most difficult, people should try to wake up the first time their alarm goes off instead of hitting snooze.
Blue screens found on computers and phones have a stimulating effect. Therefore, sleep experts recommend turning off devices an hour before bed and silencing notifications.
Exercise and Eat Well
Exercise should be a part of your daily routine to remain healthy. However, do not exercise too late in the day to avoid excitability at bedtime. Also, you should avoid eating big meals near bedtime, especially if you suffer from heartburn. Finally, reduce alcohol and caffeine intake as they may disrupt sleep.
Try to reduce stress by practicing yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques. Also, try a soothing bedtime routine that invokes sleepiness such as reading a book, taking a bath, brushing teeth, and putting on pajamas.
Use Sleep Aids with Caution
Only as a last resort use sleep aids—but with caution. Melatonin, sleeping pills, CBD oil, and other sleep aids have been used successfully by many people. However, they may have harmful side effects. Therefore, they should only be used as a last resort and under the advisement of a health professional.
Get Good Sleep
Remember, getting a good night’s sleep can help improve physical activity, support you in fighting cravings and making healthy food choices, and reduce insulin resistance. Hopefully, as you continue your journey, these tips will help you accomplish your health and weight management goals.