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Poor sleeping habits may just be the reason you are not losing weight.

One of the things that contribute the most to weight loss struggles, and weight gain, is sleep. Weight loss extends beyond diet or working out and even if you are following the right diet, you could still struggle to lose weight.

In this post I will talk about things like sleep quality, quantity, and some good habits you can implement to help you improve your sleeping environment. 

The Importance Of Sleep

We all understand the importance of getting enough sleep. Yet, so many people take it for granted. On my Sleep Cycle app it says that the average time South African’s go to bed is at 11pm. 

Sleep is the most important thing you can do for your health. More important than taking up an exercising regime or following a diet.  

sleep and weight loss

Ever had too little sleep and felt groggy the next day?

Poor sleeping habits have been shown to have the following implications:

  • A decrease in insulin sensitivity,
  • Increased cravings for carbohydrate–rich food and sugar, and
  • A significantly decrease in mental and physical performance. 

When we sleep, we give our bodies time to mentally and physically recover from everything that happened in the day.

Sleep Quality and Sleep Quantity Impacts Weight Loss

Sleep Quantity

Sleep quantity and sleep quality are equally important for weight loss. Your sleep quantity refers to the number of hours spent sleeping. Not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to your health. The effects of a lack of sleep quantity can have is are quite significant. Here are some of these effects. Reduced alertness and attention span, short-term memory loss, impaired reaction time and reflexes, aching muscles and muscle fatigue, hand tremors, dark circles under the eyes, mood swings, irritability and confusion. You may have also heard that you can never “catch up” on any of those hours of missed sleep!

Sleep deprivation has been shown to affect the balance of the hormones that regulate appetite and can impact your weight loss. Ever gone a night without enough sleep and felt extra hungry the next day? That’s your appetite-regulating hormones called leptin and ghrelin that’s affected by a lack of sleep. A lack of sleep not only can cause overeating, but it can also lead to higher glucose levels and insulin resistance. One study showed that after just one week of 5 hours of sleep, men’s testosterone was shown to drop 10 to 15%.

Because insufficient sleep and poor sleeping habits have such a significant influence on food choices and metabolism, it makes sense to address the lack of sleep before trying to change dietary habits. Lack of sleep reduces willpower and, based on the research mentioned above, significantly influences your metabolism. Not only do cravings increase, but when people give in to them, their body may more easily convert those foods to extra body fat and can hamper your weight loss.

Making small improvements to your lifestyle can result in huge health benefits improvong your sleeping habits from getting enough sleep.   

Sleep Quality

There is much debate on how much sleep one should be getting, but even if you’re getting enough sleep, your sleep quality is equally important. Sleep quality is the time spent in deep sleep and REM sleep. Say you are getting 7–8 hours of sleep every night, but you are tossing and turning, and in a light state of sleep, you will probably still wake up feeling groggy.

It is during deep sleep that your body physically recovers, and the body releases its highest levels of growth hormone. Deep sleep typically takes place in the first third to half of the night. To maximize deep sleep, it seems that getting to bed well before midnight is helpful.

REM sleep is the state that supports brain function and enhances memory. REM sleep is at its peak in the second half to the final third of the night. It’s during this state that dreams are the most vibrant, which is why you may often remember a dream when the alarm goes off.

Sleep quality is determined by the time spent in deep sleep and REM sleep. Simply, deep sleep is the state that helps your body physically recover.

Here’re 5 Easy Tips To Improve Sleep Quality:

  • Keep your room cool. Turn down the heat, open a window or turn up the air conditioning. An ideal room temperature of about 19 degrees celsius is beneficial. When we fall asleep, our bodies naturally cool off. Helping keep your body get to that lower temperature faster can encourage deeper sleep.
  • Avoid blue light from a TV or computer screen for at least an hour before bedtime. Blue light limits the production of melatonin, which is essential for getting into deeper stages of sleep. You can invest in blue-light blocking glasses to block the blue light from tv screens. If you have a smartphone, you can activate “night shift” in your phone’s display settings. The simplest is to set it for “sunrise to sunset” which will adjust it automatically and then you don’t ever have to worry about it again. If you have to work on your computer screen at night time, install flux.com to automatically change the colours of your screen at certain times of the day and block the blue light electronics emit.
  • If you have a problem sleeping, try supplementing with magnesium. People who follow a ketogenic diet need to supplement with approximately 300-450mg of magnesium daily.
  • Keep your room as dark as possible. Even though your eyes are closed when you are asleep, your skin still senses light and any form of light in your bedroom, while you are sleeping, can interfere with sleep quality. The same applies to kids. Teach them from a young age to sleep in a dark room and not to have a night-light or even the passage light. And, don’t expose them to bright light before they have to go to bed. Invest in block-out curtains and don’t keep the bathroom light on, not even for your kids.
  • Avoid high-intensity exercise too close to bedtime. This may elevate cortisol levels, which should be at their lowest before bed, not in an elevated state.

Improved Sleep Hygiene Habits To Increase Sleep Quantity:

  • Set as a specific time to go to bed every night. In doing so, your body will become accustomed to bedtime, and you’ll fall asleep faster. Anytime from 9h00 or 9h30 being in bed and reading can give your body enough time to start relaxing in preparation for sleep.
  • Turn down the lights and stop watching TV or using your computer an hour before bedtime.
  • Drink herbal tea such as chamomile or lavender.
  • Reading a good book or spending quality time with your family in the evening is invaluable.

Getting adequate sleep and waking up refreshed and energized will improve your overall health. Sure, there are seasons in our lives that will influence the quality and quantity of sleep we may be getting. A new baby or a project you are working on are part of life. Even in these situations or seasons, know that sleep is important and always try to prioritize it if and when you can. Be purposeful. Bad habits form so quickly and easily.

You can expect to see considerable improvements in your weight loss efforts, eating habits, workout performance, moods, energy levels, and even work productivity by implementing one or two of these strategies and prioritizing sleep.

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