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15 Tips for Better Sleep
15 Tips for Better Sleep

How Sleep Affects Health & Weight

Sleep is a vital human process. Therefore, not surprisingly, it can be extremely important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Studies show that excessive sleep and sleep deprivation both lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other health issues. Getting an appropriate amount of sleep enables the body to repair itself and prepare for another wakeful day.

Sleeping Woman

How poor sleep habits affect health and weight

When someone starts to transition to a healthier lifestyle, they often start by exercising more and eating better. Sleep is almost never a priority, even though it is a critical factor in how healthy someone is and their ability to become healthier.

Sleep deprivation causes increased levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, and decreased levels of the satiety hormone, leptin, in the body. This increases feelings of hunger and subsequently, they eat more throughout the day. On average, people consume an extra 300 calories on days when they are not well rested.

In general, this excessive food consumption happens because the body is trying to make up for the lack of energy. Without sleep, more nutrients are needed to make it through the day and complete tasks effectively.

Sleepy Man

Specifically, a small region of the hypothalamus in the brain gets activated when someone is sleep deprived. This region is integral in regulating appetite. Additionally, insulin is involved in the release of leptin (the “full” hormone), but when you don’t get enough sleep, fat cells stop responding properly to insulin. Without that sensitivity to the hormone, less leptin is released – meaning you won’t feel as full as you would if you were well rested. What’s more, poor sleep leads to less physical activity. When this is combined with increased consumption, weight gain seems more likely when an individual is deprived of sleep.

When you become more and more sleep deprived, your mind starts to play tricks on you and it becomes harder to make good decisions. This is because the longer you go without being well rested, the more your brain’s frontal lobe starts to dull. But, your brain’s reward system is on full charge which makes you want to search harder for something to make you feel good (risky behavior alert!).

But what about oversleeping? Should individuals just try to sleep longer than advised because of the risks associated with not getting enough sleep? No. Oversleeping has been associated with diabetes, heart disease, and just like with sleep deprivation, obesity. An unhealthy pattern of excessive sleep can mess with the body’s natural biorhythms and bio clock which can impair daily functions. Choosing to have a healthy sleep routine (which for most adults is seven to nine hours each night) is crucial for a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Causes of poor sleep

Many people struggle with sleep problems, meaning that they have trouble falling asleep, or they can’t seem to reduce the amount that they sleep. There are physical and mental health issues that can lead to sleep disturbance. When it comes to physical ailments that cause sleep problems, any kind of pain can prevent someone from getting a good night’s sleep. Heart problems can lead to breathing issues that constantly wake people up from their slumber. Musculoskeletal disorders can make it hard for people to fall asleep. Thyroid disease over stimulates the nervous system, also making it hard to fall asleep.

Mental health disorders, including general anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and others can cause both insomnia and excessive sleep. It is harder to fall asleep when struggling with mental health issues, and it is also harder to get out of bed in the morning.

Finally, neurological disorders like dementia can cause confusion and disorientation at night leading to poor sleep. Epilepsy is also associated with insomnia because the brain wave disturbances that cause seizures can also cause REM sleep disturbances.

Sleeping Woman

Sleep disorders can also cause sleep problems. For example, obstructive sleep apnea results in breathing issues that may cause people to abruptly wake up throughout the night. Another is delayed sleep phase disorder makes it harder to fall asleep and to wake up early in the morning, leading to fatigue.

15 tips to improve sleep for Weight Loss

1. Try to sleep and wake at consistent times each day

Your body has an effective circadian rhythm system that makes it so that we stay awake from sunrise to sunset. One study shows that people who have irregular sleep patterns and who go to sleep later on weekends, report poorer sleep. Getting in the habit of waking and sleeping at the same times each day can help get your body in a routine that makes it easier to fall asleep.

2. Reduce blue light exposure during the day and especially in the evening

Blue light is the light that electronic devices like computers and smartphones emit. Although blue light is worse than regular daytime light, it affects your body similarly. It tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime and makes it harder to fall asleep. Specifically, it reduces hormones like melatonin in the body. Many people try to block blue light by wearing special glasses or downloading specific apps directly onto devices. Reducing exposure to this light in the evening can help reduce sleep disturbances.

Man on Computer in Bed

3. Increase bright light exposure during the day (even artificially)

Often when it’s gray and dreary outside, people report being tired. Constant lack of bright light can throw your body’s natural circadian rhythm out of whack. If you live in a place where daylight is sparse in the winter, consider getting a special UV lamp to help increase your light exposure during the day.

4. Cut caffeine consumption in the afternoon and evening

Caffeine works to help you stay awake. However, it can significantly impair sleep. In fact, caffeine can remain in the blood for six to eight hours. One study showed that consuming a caffeinated beverage six hours before trying to go to bed significantly worsened sleep.

5. Try not to nap unless extremely necessary

While napping might seem like a good idea in the moment (and short power naps can be beneficial at times), taking long naps at random times can seriously impact sleep. In fact, people often report feeling sleepier even after they take a nap. However, taking regular naps at specific times every day does not negatively impact sleep function.

6. Create a night-time routine

Sticking to a routine 30-60 minutes before bed can help get your mind ready to go to sleep.

7. Exercise regularly, but not before you go to sleep

Exercise is one of the best ways to improve sleep ability and quality. One study illustrates that regular exercise can half the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Even people who struggle with insomnia report beneficial results from exercise. However, it’s important not to engage in exercise right before bed because of the increased alertness your body feels and the increase in hormones like adrenaline and epinephrine.

Running Man

8. Optimize your bedroom environment

Make your bedroom inviting. If your room causes you stress or anxiety it is going to be harder to fall asleep. This is one of the reasons that people choose to keep their bedroom tidy. This also means finding sheets and pillows that you like. Comfort is relaxing and can help improve sleep function.

9. Block your clock

Another thing that causes stress can be the bright clock on your bedside table. Looking at it multiple times each night, especially when you can’t fall asleep can cause anxiety. Try putting it far enough away that you can’t reach out to look at it, or putting it in a drawer where you can’t even see it.

Alarm Clock

10. Check your diet and don’t eat late in the evening

Some studies show that low-carb diets can improve sleep. However, what’s even more important than regular meals is late-night eating. Eating late at night can negatively impact sleep quality and the release of melatonin.

11. Practice relaxation techniques to make falling back asleep easier

Falling asleep might not be the issue for some. Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back asleep can also leave you feeling tired and sluggish in the morning. If this is the case, studies have shown that relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing are able to help with the ability to return to sleep. These can also be used in the initial falling asleep.

12. Try using essential oils

Essential oils are growing in popularity and new research may indicate that they can improve sleep quality. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that the lavender scent promotes relaxation and can help with the falling asleep process. Using a diffuser or even applying it to wrists or pillow cases are among the recommendations.

13. Reduce alcohol consumption

Alcohol is known to increase sleep apnea and disrupt sleep. It hinders the melatonin production at nighttime which can lead to poor sleep.

Woman Drinking Wine

14. Try taking supplements

Melatonin supplements are popular sleep aids often used to treat insomnia. One study found that just 2mg of melatonin before going to bed improved the quality of sleep and led to more energy the next day.

15. Make sure there is not an underlying health condition

If regular sleep has always been an issue and none of the tips and tricks seem to be working, talk to your health-care professional to rule out an underlying sleep condition.

– How sleep loss leads to significant weight gain

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/20/sleep-loss-weight-gain/7507503/

 

– 7 Ways Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sleep-and-weight-loss

 

– Sleep and Weight Gain

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/lack-of-sleep-weight-gain#1

 

– Molecular ties between lack of sleep and weight gain

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/molecular-ties-between-lack-sleep-weight-gain

 

– Physical Side Effects of Oversleeping

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/physical-side-effects-oversleeping#1

 

– Weight Loss and Sleep: Is There a Connection?

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/sleep-newzzz/201709/weight-loss-and-sleep-is-there-connection-1

 

– Sleep duration and cardiovascular disease: results from the National Health Interview Survey

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20815184

 

– Does inadequate sleep play a role in vulnerability to obesity?

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajhb.22219

 

– Sleep and obesity

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632337/

 

– Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2951287/

 

– Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/

 

– 17 Proven Tips to Sleep Better at Night

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-tips-to-sleep-better

 

– How to Sleep Better

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/getting-better-sleep.htm

 

– 20 Tips for Better Sleep

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/ss/slideshow-sleep-tips

 

– Medical Causes of Sleep Problems

https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/medical-causes-of-sleep-problems.htm

 

– What You Should Know About Difficulty Sleeping

https://www.healthline.com/health/sleeping-difficulty

How Sleep Affects Health & Weight

Sleep is a vital human process. Therefore, not surprisingly, it can be extremely important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Studies show that excessive sleep and sleep deprivation both lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other health issues. Getting an appropriate amount of sleep enables the body to repair itself and prepare for another wakeful day.

When someone starts to transition to a healthier lifestyle, they often start by exercising more and eating better. Sleep is almost never a priority, even though it is a critical factor in 

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