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5@5: Five Tips to Getting Sleep While Managing Your Weight

So many people start diet plans and fitness routines with the goal of losing excess pounds. They often carefully map out their diet and create the fitness plan that works best for them. These are both great to do, but one of the most common omissions from their plan is to get eight hours of sleep a night.

Recent studies report that sleep may affect one’s ability to successfully manage a healthy weight. A recent article I read summarized the findings from a study published in the journal Sleep. The authors of the study of over 35,000 people concluded that those “who slept five or less hours of sleep a night were twice as likely to experience weight gain as those who slept seven to eight hours a night.”

One theory they discussed is that a lack of sleep could decrease the protein leptin found in the fat cells. Leptin helps to control appetite and hunger. A lack of leptin may therefore lead to increased appetite and overeating. In addition, the psychological affect from lack of sleep may make the person confuse feeling tired with feeling hungry.

The weight gain experienced may also increase risk of sleep apnea, a condition that affects breathing and disrupts sleeping patterns. Sleep apnea limits the duration of good, deep sleep by repeatedly triggering the body to react because of the pauses in breathing. Some people can have dozens of apnea episodes a night. Weight gain and sleep apnea may act against each other and contribute to each worsening over time.

Five tips I recommend to get a good night’s sleep are:

  • Have a Consistent Bedtime – Whether it is during the week or on a weekend, go to bed at the same time. This will ensure that you are in the habit of having a consistent sleep pattern.
  • Limit Caffeine – You should limit the amount of caffeine you have throughout the day, but definitely do not have it within a few hours of your designated bedtime. The effects of caffeine may in fact keep you awake well past your bedtime.
  • Exercise – It is better to exercise earlier in the day and not too close to bedtime. Daily exercise when done consistently can help promote the body’s need for rest, but a boost in energy right before bed may keep you awake.
  • Reduce Stress – Stress can inhibit one’s ability to “turn off the mind” and fall asleep. If you are experiencing stress that causes you to stay awake, consider stress-reducing breathing exercises, yoga during the day, or make an effort to eliminate the root of the stress.
  • Have a Comfortable Sleeping Environment – Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleeping by controlling the temperature, keeping it dark and eliminating noise that may wake you up.