The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours every night. Other factors like pregnancy, aging, previous sleep deprivation, and sleep quality increase the amount of recommended sleep time. Unfortunately, many adults, especially students, full time workers, and parents are not getting enough sleep. Studies show that chronically sleeping too little or too much increases mortality rate and has a number of other side effects including weight gain. Read on to learn about how one very important thing you can do to boost your diet plan is to improve your sleep hygiene.
Sleep is a time for your brain to process and store memories and rest neurons that have been busy at work all day, giving them a chance to reboot and work at peak performance the next day. Lack of sleep has been shown to reduce your ability to concentrate, make decisions, and control impulses. In addition, a sleep deprived brain’s pleasure centers rev up, looking for a way to make you feel better. Being overtired is a little bit like being drunk, your mental clarity is gone and you are much more likely to act on impulse and eat the carton of ice cream. A number of studies have linked sleep deprivation to weight gain. A study done on men deprived of sleep on recurrent basis showed that they had an increased preference for high calorie foods, and their overall calorie consumption increased.
Insufficient sleep also interferes with your body’s hormone production. When you do not sleep enough your body produces more of the hormone ghrelin than normal. Ghrelin is the “hunger hormone” which tells your brain “I’m hungry, feed me food!!” In addition, when your body is sleep deprived it produces less leptin, the hormone that tells your brain you have had enough to eat. This hormonal imbalance in combination with decreased mental clarity sets you up to eat way too much food. To make matters worse, lack of sleep causes your body to produce a large amount of cortisol, a stress hormone causes your body to hang on to fat to use during your waking hours. According to one study, when a group of dieters cut down on their sleep over a 14 day period they lost 55% less weight from fat.
Clearly sleep is important for your body and your mind, but sometimes it is hard to get yourself on a healthy sleep schedule. Here are some tips for setting yourself up to get enough sleep every night:
Shut off your computer and electronic devices at least an hour before sleep. The blue light in the screens has been shown to affect circadian rhythms.
Create a bedtime ritual. This repetitiveness will signal to your brain that it is time to start winding down and will make it easier to fall asleep. Try reading a book, taking a bath, etc. This also includes falling asleep and waking up at roughly the same times even on weekends.
Try not to eat heavy meals or drink alcohol before bed, they can cause heartburn which can keep you up. In addition, they will cause your blood sugar to spike and will make it difficult to lose weight. Also make sure there is no caffeine in your system when you are ready to go to bed, this includes dark chocolate! Remember, caffeine stays in your system for 5-6 hours so plan accordingly!
Turn off the lights, lights will inhibit your body from producing melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.
5-HTP: an important neurotransmitter for appetite control, melatonin production, and mood regulation.
Ashwaganda Extract: an Ayurvedic herb that balances cortisol levels for improved energy and sleep.
GABA: An important neurotransmitter that regulates normal brain function which improves sleep, may calm and reduce anxiety, and may improve pain symptoms.
Magnesium Chelate: form of magnesium that is easy for your body to absorb which has a calming effect on the brain and nervous system, and may improve enzyme activity, bone density, and heart and circulatory function.
Melatonin: Regulates normal sleep/ wake cycles and has been shown to reduce anxiety, restlessness, and depression.