GUEST POST: One of the greatest problems most women and a few men I know complain about is sleep — not enough sleep, falling asleep, middle of the night awakenings, night sweats, and the list goes on. The problem is that too little sleep plays a huge role in weight gain. The latest sleep studies confirm that two important hormones — ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and leptin (the hormone that tells you “I’m full”) are regulated by sleep — or lack thereof.
Here’s how to make sleep work for you. Try to get 6-8 hours of sleep each night to boost leptin, which is a good thing when you are dieting or trying to control your weight. If you get less than 6 hours of sleep, the level of ghrelin increases in the body (you don’t want too much of this hormone). Now, there are times in our lives when we don’t have as much control over our sleep schedule as we’d like; just ask any new parent. If you can’t get enough sleep each night due to children, you certainly don’t need to beat yourself up. Just do the best you can. But if your sleep issues aren’t kid-induced, it’s worth talking to your doctor about it. And employ these easy tips to relax and sleep well throughout the night:
A.M. SUNSHINE. Seek out sunlight in the early morning each day, because your natural circadian rhythm, which regulates your sleep, benefits from natural light.
KEEP YOUR BEDROOM DARK AND QUIET. Use black-out shades, an eye mask, and ear plugs to shut out the world while your body sleeps.
FIND THE OFF SWITCH. Turn off the computers, tablets, televisions, and smartphones an hour before you go to bed. Studies show the artificial light coming from such devices can keep you awake and make it difficult to feel drowsy.
AVOID CAFFEINE AFTERNOON. Watch out for hidden sources of caffeine, such as medications, chocolate, and dessert drinks. Try green tea if you need a pick-me-up in the late afternoon because it only contains 20 mg of caffeine.
NO BOOZE BEFORE YOU SNOOZE. Don’t drink alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. Alcohol keeps you from reaching the deep stages of sleep and dehydrates you, too. Many people who have cocktails after dinner complain of waking up in the middle of the night.
DON’T NAP. Napping regularly will disturb your sleep cycle. Avoid sleeping in the day. Keep to 8 hours a night and ideally nothing more.
CREATE A ROUTINE. Control your sleeping pattern. Going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day, with few exceptions works best.
SLOW DOWN. Encourage everyone in your house (including yourself!) to start winding down at a reasonable hour by doing something relaxing, like reading a book, taking a bath, or having a warm mug of herbal tea. You’ll feel so much better the next morning.
Some tips courtesy of Denise Austin at deniseaustin.com