Sleep is food for the brain. It’s vital for good health, affecting not just our energy levels, but our ability to think, pay attention, be productive and make decisions. And now a new study finds that sleep can also affect your ability to lose weight.
Almost 2,000 people who were overweight or obese took part in an intensive weight loss program. They followed a low-calorie Mediterranean-type diet, exercised and also learned how to improve their lifestyle and habits. After a year, researchers found that those who slept for 6 or less hours a night actually lost less weight than participants who slept 7 to 9 hours each night. This just shows you how important sleep is, and unfortunately, not enough of you are making this a priority. So to help you lose a few extra pounds while getting a good night’s sleep, here are my prescriptions
1. Create a sleep schedule where you go to bed and get up at the same time every day. That includes weekends.
2. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, big meals and cigarettes in the evening. All of these can disrupt your sleep. If you’re hungry, try a light snack about 45 minutes before heading to bed.
3. Wind down at night, at least an hour before bed. Do some reading but not on any electronic devices as the blue light can mess with your sleep – instead, try a good old-fashion book, newspaper or magazine.
4. Lastly, it’s important to exercise. It gives you energy during the day and relieves stress which can help promote a good night’s sleep.
When it comes to losing weight, you also need to watch what foods you eat. Eating calorie-loaded foods, especially processed ones, will not help you effective drop the pounds. I suggest you aim to eat healthy 80% of the time – and include plenty of vegetables, fruit and healthy whole grains in your diet. Now if you make these lifestyle changes and still have trouble sleeping, please talk to your doctor. You could have some underlying issue like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.