ARTICLE: THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Over the last 6 months the biggest piece of advice I have been given is to get as much sleep as possible before the baby arrives. I have not quite managed to bank as much as I would like and sleep deprivation is something I am just going to have to deal with, just like every other new mum. For me, sleep might not be something I can control for too much longer, but for many of you sleep and specifically how to get more of it, should be something you are thinking about, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
Sleep is starting to be discussed more and more as we begin to understand how important it is to our overall health and wellbeing. As many of you will attest to that have ever been sleep deprived, lack of sleep affects your ability to make decisions, to think clearly, your mental health and your physical capabilities. The level that it affects all of these areas obviously varies depending on how little sleep you are getting. However, do not be fooled into thinking that it only affects those that are getting next to no sleep, even losing a couple of hours every night can start to impact your health and, the topic which I really want to focus on, your weight!
Getting significantly less than 8 hours a night can impact how much we eat due to two major factors. The first is that we crave more sugar. This sugar can come in the form of refined carbs or it can be sweet treats, the specific craving depends on the individual, but the desire for more sugar is driven by the fact that the body needs an energy boost and it knows sugar will provide that. If anyone has experienced the mid afternoon dip, you will know exactly what I am talking about! It is that time mid afternoon when you start to get tired from a long day at work and the tea and biscuits come out to get you over the post lunch slump. This is just one of the times we notice this dip however, it is likely happening at other times the day just perhaps not as noticeably.
Secondly, lack of sleep severely reduces our will power. What many people do not realise is that will power is a finite resource and is affected by so many factors like stress, environment, circumstance and, of course, sleep. If we are well rested we will be feel far more capable of saying ‘no’, but the ability to do this is massively reduced when we are more tired. We simply do not have the energy or desire to fight the urge!
So how do you get more sleep especially if your day is currently packed full? It is very difficult and there is no one answer, but I would recommend that you take some time to look at your evening and see if there is any way you can get to bed even just half an hour earlier. You will be amazed at how just an extra half an hour a night can help you feel so much better. Trying to take my own advice in the quest for more sleep I have been putting my phone down earlier, which is a massive help as I can easily lose half an hour just looking at rubbish, and I have been getting into bed earlier to listen to the radio. I am definitely guilty of thinking it is too early to go to bed and trying to pack in more work or doing things around the house, but I am trying to resist the urge at the moment and just getting to bed! After all I will need all the reserves I can manage in a few months time!
If you have been struggling to lose weight or are just starting to work on a weight loss goal, I would urge you to prioritise getting some more sleep, if possible. You will find it much easier to cut down on snacking, to reduce carbs and have far more energy to work out. Just give it a try!
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