When you start thinking “I want to get healthier” your first thoughts might be about changing your diet or trying to start an exercise routine.
You’ll find lots of weight loss advice that revolves around “eat less and move more.” Whilst this advice can be important, here at MoreLife we understand that there’s more to health.
Having a regular sleep routine is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to let yourself rest and recharge. You may be surprised to realise just how much a good – or bad – night’s sleep can impact you.
Here we’ll be talking about what can happen if you don’t get enough sleep, how it can impact weight loss, and how you can improve your sleeping habits. Why is sleep so important?
Health Benefits of Sleep
Sleep is like food for the brain. During sleep, important repairs happen to both your body and mind. There’s plenty of science behind why you wake up feeling so refreshed and rested after a good night’s sleep.
Sleep can help ward off heart disease, diabetes, boost your immune system and increase your sex drive. Alongside all these physical benefits, sleep can also help boost your mental well-being. Most of the time, people need about 8 hours of good-quality sleep a night to function properly.
Lack of Sleep
However, getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t come easily to everyone. Did you know that almost one in three people suffer from poor sleep? There are consequences if you don’t get enough sleep. Don’t worry, the odd night here and there won’t harm your health. Though you may feel tired and irritated in the morning.
However, after several sleepless nights, the effects become more serious. These can include brain fog, difficulty concentrating and feeling down. Long-term, regular poor sleep can lead to mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Sleep & Weight Gain
What about the relationship between sleep and weight gain? A lack of sleep can increase your appetite and cravings. Plus, decrease your motivation which makes it harder for you to make the right decisions about your health.
Studies show that people who sleep less than 7 hours a day tend to gain more weight. It is believed that sleep-deprived people have reduced levels of leptin – this is the chemical that makes you feel full. Also, increased levels of ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry. Newer research shows that not having enough sleep may make type 2 diabetes worse.
Getting enough sleep will play a crucial role in your healthy lifestyle routine. You may have heard of “sleep hygiene” before. This essentially means good sleeping habits. These vary from your behaviour to your environment. How can you prepare your body to start slowing down?
– Regular, moderate, exercise – like swimming or walking – can help relieve some of the tension built up over the day.
– Try to avoid doing vigorous exercise close to bedtime, as it may keep you awake.
– Try to cut down on alcohol and avoid caffeine close to bedtime. They can stop you from falling asleep and prevent deep sleep.
– Eating a large meal close to bedtime can also prevent you from getting a deep sleep.
– Try to reduce your screen time before bed. Screen lights slow down the production of sleep hormones which will stop you feeling sleepy.
Creating a Sleep Routine
What about actually falling asleep? There are ways you can create a healthy sleeping pattern for your body to adapt.
– Create a cool, dark environment
– Try to sleep at regular hours
– Go to bed when you feel tired
– Getting up at roughly the same time each day helps you sleep better
Also, try to avoid clock watching. It can wake you up in the night and create negative thinking. You may be familiar with these thoughts already: “Oh no I’ll never fall asleep” or “I’ve only slept 2 hours, how am I going to fall back to sleep?”
When You Can’t Sleep
It is a horrible feeling when you’re lying in bed, willing yourself to sleep but you just can’t. If you’re lying awake worrying about something, make a list for the next day. This can help to put your mind at rest.
Also, don’t stay in bed tossing and turning. If you’ve been trying to fall asleep for 20 minutes or more, get up and do something relaxing or boring for a bit. Then try to go back to bed when you feel sleepier.