Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Get some ZZZZZZ's

One of my favorite things to do is sleep. I am definitely not one to stay up late and miss out on some good sleep time. But for good reason! Sleep is highly linked to our health, not only weight loss, but helps with stress and anxiety too. On average you really should get about 8 hours of sleep per night. Here is why:

We all  have hormones that are produced during sleep, and two of them are directly linked to our appetite. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite. Inadequate sleep causes your body to produce more of this hormone. Leptin is a hormone that is produced in your fat cells and it is responsible for sending signals to your brain to let it know you are full. Inadequate sleep decreases this hormone production. So the combination of too little sleep and  these two hormone imbalances causes overeating. I.E. weight gain. It is also as simple as if you get the proper amount of sleep per night you are more likely to be rested and not need the help of sugary snacks and beverages to give you an energy jolt during the day. Meaning less calorie intake. Also when you are sleep deprived, your metabolism is much slower, therefore making it harder to lose weight. When you are sleep deprived you also are more likely to experience increased stress and anxiety which produces the hormone Cortisol which can cause an increase in belly fat.

How can you improve your sleep? Take these few steps and you may find you are getting more quality sleep and it may help you to lose a little bit more weight.

  • No Caffeine after 2pm. You don't want to keep yourself buzzing up until bedtime and your body needs a few hours to get all the caffeine out of your system. Also caffeine acts as a diuretic, meaning it pulls water out of your system and makes you urinate more. You don't want to be up all night in the bathroom.
  • Do not eat a huge meal for dinner, especially one full of carbs. Eat lean protein, veggies and a small healthy snack before bed if you must. A small handful of lean turkey breast from the deli is a good choice. Turkey has a hormone in it that can make you sleepy and the lean protein takes a long time to digest, so you won't wake up in the middle of the night starving.
  • Clean your room! Seriously, it is thought that if you have a messy room your body and mind can't totally relax so make your bedroom organized, warm and inviting so you can easily wind down. 
  • Use aroma therapy. I like to take a warm bath with lavender bubble bath or use a pillow spray. Aroma therapy can help decrease stress and anxiety. 
  • Decrease light, try not watch TV in bed or read from an IPad. The neon light is thought to keep your mind stimulated. It is better to use a soft light lamp and read from a book. 
  • Fall asleep to natural sounds such as white noise or rainfall. You can buy gadgets that have sounds you can choose from, or I am sure you can find an app on your phone.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, they say around 67 degrees at night. Our body sleeps better when it is cool.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. This way your body will get used to a routine.
  • If you must take something for sleep, try over the counter Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced in our body that regulates our natural sleep wake cycle. Try to stay away from sleep aides or benedryl.
  • Avoid alcohol before going to bed. This actually does not work as a sleep aide, rather keeps you stimulated with poor quality sleep.
  • Try stretching or yoga right before bed to help relax and slow your body down.
There are many other ways to help sleep so try a combination to see what works for you. It is important to let your body recharge like a battery. So sleep tight!

Yesterday's workouts:
http://goo.gl/hQCx5 from fitnessblender, a 20 minute Cardio routine
http://goo.gl/V7ZmV from fitnessblender, a quick Arm and Shoulder routine

Today's workout:
20 minutes on the elliptical
http://goo.gl/reGyL from fitsugar, a 10 minute Crossfit routine

Stay Active and Get some sleep!