Too Little Sleep Causing You To Gain Weight?


     Of my action steps, one of the  things I struggle with most is getting 8 hours of sleep at night. I have suffered from sleeplesness off and on for many years. These days it’s less true insomnia than dicipline. There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day. As I work to lose weight, I am reminded of just how important getting the right amount of sleep is in this process.

     It’s so much more than an excuse. Too little sleep can cause you to have trouble keeping weight in check. There are several reasons why making sure you get enough zzz’s is key for weight loss.

     One of the most obvious reasons is if you are tired you are much less likely to fit in the extra physical activity like heading to the gym or going for that run. Even if you do start, a lack of energy will make it feel like more of a chore and you are less likely to get a good workout.

     You are also more likely to eat “comfort” and “convenience” foods when you are tired. When tired we don’t feel like cooking and reach for what is quick and easy. When energy is low we crave that quick sugar high and the energy it provides. We are also just weaker and our compromised willpower and mood are likely to cause us to make poor choices.

     One of the major ways I avoid eating too many calories is eating frequently so I don’t become overly hungry. If I am awake an extra 2 to 4 hours I will become hungry and will eat at least once more. Those extra feedings, even of healthy foods, mean extra calories and over time contribute to extra pounds.

     There are also physiological reasons why sleep deprivation causes weight problems. Improper sleep causes hormonal changes in the body. Ghrelin, a hormone that tells the body it needs to eat is over produced when there are sleep deficits and Leptin which cues the body that its full is lower than it should be when you lack sleep. Thus you feel hungry more often and are slower to feel full.

     What can you do to help with a sleep deficit? I wish there were one magic answers. Unfortunately there are many different reasons why you may be losing sleep and the solution is usually specific to the problem. Are you not sleeping well because you are worried or anxious? Are caffeine or exercise late in the day revving your system? Do you have an illness or hormonal issue that affects your sleep patterns? Are you someone who hates to stop what you’re doing and give in to sleep? It is important that you begin to understand what is causing you to not get enough sleep. That will help you decide which suggestions may work for you.

     Is your energy up in the evening? Do you feel too “awake” to sleep? Look at what activities in your evening hours may be energizing you.

     Do you exercise near bedtime? Exercise will make you “tired” at first but all of the endorphins and adrenalin will leave you with a boost of energy, sometimes for hours after the workout. Consider moving your physical activity to early in the morning when you need a good boost, or at least earlier in the evening before it’s time to wind down. Try stretching exercises at night that are designed to help you relax instead of cardio that is meant to rev you.

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     Do you drink caffeinated beverages such as coffee, cola, tea, or energy drinks in the evening? Caffeine can be a big hinderance to sleep cycles. Try having your last caffeinated drink no later than 2 p.m. and you may see a real shift in your ability to snooze. These days there are de-caf versions of almost all drinks. decaffeinated herbal teas such as chamomile mint mixes can actually help you sleep more soundly. They are a soothing and relaxing way to end the day. Be careful not to forget to avoid caffeinated foods in the evening, too. Chocolate and “coffee-flavored” foods are high in caffeine as well. Some medications such as headache or PMS pills have caffeine added so you might have been getting extra doses of caffeine without realizing it.

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     Are your evenings spent in front of the computer, video games, or tv? The light and activity from these may stimulate the brain rather than relax it. Research indicates that cutting down on these activities at least two hours before bedtime may help you sleep better. Consider reading, listening to music, or doing relaxation exercises instead.

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     Stress keeping you up at night? Try deep breathing or progressive relaxation exercises. End your evening with a soothing cup of camomile tea. Use aroma therapy. Try surrounding yourself with scents like lavender to create an environment of relaxation.

Click on the picture above to learn more about this and other great items in the Slimdown With Sandee Store.

     Are your sleep times inconsistent? Work on a regular sleep schedule. Try to avoid napping if you are having trouble sleeping at night. These naps confuse the body. Work on waking and resting at the same time each day to create a pattern the body will react to.

     Sounds of traffic, spouse snoring, or neighbors bothering you? Try using white noise to distract the brain from these more bothersome sounds. A recording of rain falling or even the sound of a fan can be very soothing.

Progressive relaxation is one of my favorite ways to fight sleeplessness. It is soooo relaxing.

     Make sure you are getting plenty of exercise, exposure to daylight, and healthy foods through out your day. If you are active in the early hours it will help your physical being be more tired and ready for rest at night. Proper amounts of light during the day help regulate the body’s natural melatonin cycle, which helps with restful sleep. Eating frequently until a few hours before bed in the right amounts will keep you from being hungry at bedtime. Hunger can hamper sleep, but so can trying to sleep after an over heavy meal. Try to eat a light dinner. Try to avoid eating right before bed. Allow at least 3 hours between your last meal and sleep time.

     Train your brain to know that bed=sleep. Don’t use your bed for working, watching tv, or doing hobbies. The bedroom being a place for only sleep and intimacy will help cue your brain and body for bedtime.

     Concentrate on comfort. Make sure your bedroom is a good temperature, as quite as possible, and that the bed and pillows are pleasing to your body. Uncomfortable conditions will lead to restlessness and sleep loss. Investing in a comfy mattress and pillows in an investment in your overall well-being. You spend 1/3 of you life in bed. Shouldn’t this be quality time?

     Sweet dreams and better weight-loss to you.



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