When it comes to losing weight, sleep can be just as important as nutrition and exercise. Listed below are six changes to make for better sleep and weight loss.
Diet and exercise are two key facets of successful weight loss, but there is another important factor that tends to get neglected–sleep! Adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep each night, yet the CDC estimates that at least one-third of U.S. adults log less than seven hours.
When it comes to weight loss, the effects of not getting enough shuteye go way beyond being a little tired or less effective. Inadequate sleep triggers hormonal and metabolic changes, which increase appetite and cravings and reduce insulin sensitivity. These effects are so significant that inadequate sleep is regarded as a risk factor for weight gain and obesity.
Additionally, a lack of sleep can make it more difficult to stick to healthy food choices because mental health, mood and thought patterns are also impacted. So, what can you do to create your snoozing more and more restful? Here are six little changes for improved sleep to encourage weight loss.1. Limit Caffeine After Lunch
While I love a cup of coffee (or two) in the mornings, I am careful to avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening. I thought this was sufficient to avoid caffeine-related sleep issues, but that may not be the case. Turns out, caffeine can remain in the body for 6 to 9 hours after it is consumed. For those sensitive to caffeine, this really can make falling asleep difficult. And, even if it doesn’t seem to prevent you falling asleep, having remnants of the stimulant in the body can decrease the amount of deep sleep you get.
Weight Loss Tip: If you regularly consume caffeine, moderate consumption (<400mg caffeine/day) in the first half of the day will have little effect, but try to limit intake starting in the early afternoon. Also, look out for any medications or supplements you take in the evening that may contain caffeine.2. Eat a High-Fiber Diet
Eating high-fiber, less-processed foods is key for weight loss, in addition to preventing most chronic ailments. In addition, it may even help your sleep! While research is not conclusive, two separate studies found that people who ate low-fiber diets that were high in sugar and refined carbs were a great deal more likely to experience poor-quality sleep, compared to people who ate more fiber and less added sugar. The reason is not fully understood, although some speculate that sleep may be disrupted by a drop in blood sugar, since added sugars and refined, carb-rich foods trigger a larger, quicker reaction in sugar and insulin.
Weight Loss Tip: High-fiber, less-processed foods like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains are what sustainable weight loss programs are based around, because these foods are high in nutrition while being lower in calories, added sugars and sodium. You’re probably already focusing on these foods if you are trying to lose weight, so use the possible benefit of better sleep as additional motivation to continue with smart eating choices.3. Get Moving
Exercise burns calories, but being physically active also helps you sleep better! Although the mechanism is not fully understood, researchsuggests individuals who get regular exercise–regardless of length or type of activity–sleep more and get more of the deep, restorative sleep that is essential for the body, in comparison to people who are less active.
Weight Loss Tip: Burning calories and sleeping better is a double win when attempting to shed weight, so establish (and stick with) a regular workout program. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, but in the event you can’t squeeze in a trip to the gym, even a short 10-minute walk or workout may result in improved sleep that night.4. Get Some Sunlight
Do you struggle to fall asleep? Making a point to step outside a few times a day and get a little sunlight may help. The reason has to do with the body’s circadian rhythms, which orchestrate and manage our internal clock and schedule. Darkness and light influence these rhythms, so incorporating brief snippets of sunlight in your day can help remind your body it is time to be awake and alert. The objective is that as the day ends and gets darker, your circadian rhythms will respond by helping the body relax and fall asleep easier.
Weight Loss Tip: Going outside for a two- to three-minute walk cues the body rhythms to encourage sleep after that night when it is dark. If that’s not an option, open the blinds or sit by a window, and avoid sitting in the dark for long periods during daytime hours.5. Hydrate Early in the Day
Keeping the body hydrated is key for weight loss, and apparently also for getting adequate sleep! A 2018 research found that people who got six hours of sleep or less were much more likely to be inadequately hydrated, compared to people who slept seven to nine hours. But getting up several times a night to visit the bathroom could interrupt your overall sleep, so how do you hydrate to encourage weight loss and sleep without a full bladder waking you up during the night?
Weight Loss Tip: Determine your daily water goal; spread those oz out through the day and emphasize getting most of it by mid-afternoon. To make it simple, I take a water bottle and aim to consume 75 to 80 percent of my goal by 3 or 4 p.m.. This way I get adequate hydration while still allowing my body plenty of time to consume and excrete it. You can still have water and other fluids then; just do not use the late afternoon and evening hours to get the majority of your daily hydration.6. Skip That Glass of Wine
Losing weight is not about deprivation; all foods (and drinks) can fit into a healthful weight loss approach. And if you prefer to have an occasional drink, then you are probably already deciding on a lower-calorie cocktail like a glass of wine or beer. However, there is more to know about that drink than just the calorie count.
Even though alcohol is a sedative and can help you initially fall asleep, the aftereffects–even from just 1 drink–can activate less-restful sleep a few hours later. In actuality, a 2018 research suggests that one to two glasses decreases your restorative, deep sleep by 24 percent. Less sleep dehydration = not a good combo for weight loss.
Weight Loss Tip: If you drink, enjoy a cocktail or two on occasion–just do not make it a nightly habit. Even though you may not feel the effects from 1 drink per night, the sleep loss gradually adds up. Also, be aware that the more you consume, the amount of restful sleep decreases.