Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Importance of Sleep for Your Weight Loss Program

Dear Patient
Don’t you just love those mornings when you wake up and you feel well-rested, completely refreshed, and you think to yourself, “Now THAT was a good night’s sleep!”

And aren’t those days usually your most productive? Aren’t those the days where you’re in the best mood, you feel more mentally focused, and you have tons of energy?

Don’t you wish you could sleep that well every night…and feel that great every day?

Not getting enough of the right kind of sleep can also affect your health in more serious ways. People with even mild insomnia are four times as likely to suffer from depression. Worse, new research shows that poor sleep puts you at greater risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Well, there are actually a few simple things you can do to make sure you get the most restorative sleep more consistently…so you can get the most out of your day.

1) Keep A Regular Sleep Schedule
The first step is to determine the perfect amount of sleep for yourself. It’s different for everyone…8 hours a night is the average, but some people feel more rested with 7 or 9 hours. This all has to do with your body’s unique circadian rhythm…which controls your sleep cycle.

So, keep track of the amount of sleep you get each night for two weeks, and also make a note of how rested you feel each morning. This way, you’ll be able to determine your optimal amount.

Then, you want to create a steady pattern for yourself by really trying to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. This might be the most important action you can take to get a better quality of sleep, because your body requires regular, consistent cycles of “awake” and “sleep.”

2) Allow Your Mind To Wind-Down BEFORE Bed
This sounds simple, but it’s actually one of the hardest things to do in this fast-paced, information-driven world. We tend to stay “connected” online or on our phones right up to the moment we go to sleep.

But your mind needs to start easing into its “sleep cycle” about an hour before you go to sleep. So, I try to stick to a pre-sleep routine every night. This is a great way to spend some time on yourself, and it allows your body to relax…so that when you do hit the pillows, you can fall asleep easily and soundly.

Here are some ideas on how to create your own sleep routine about an hour before bedtime:
·         Dim the lights in the house (light prevents your body’s natural production of melatonin, essential for sleep.)
·         Turn off the TV and the computer - these keep your mind stimulated and prevent your “sleep cycle” from engaging.
·         Take a hot bath.
·         Listen to relaxing music.
·         Read a book or magazine by soft light.
3) Adjust Your Nighttime Food & Drink Intake
What you eat and drink before bedtime has a huge impact on your quality of sleep. But cutting down on food right before you go to sleep can also help you lose weight…it’s one of the first rules of dieting.

Sometimes that can be hard to stick to, but these tips might make it easier:
·         Avoid large meals before bed (eat dinner earlier!)
·         Reduce caffeine consumption overall (and especially none within 4 hours of bedtime)
·         Avoid drinking too many liquids in the evenings. Drink plenty of water in the daytime, but at night this results in frequent trips to the bathroom and disrupts your sleep cycle.
·         If you really need a snack before bed, try one of these: half a turkey sandwich (tryptophan!), granola, a banana, or a small bowl of whole-grain & low-sugar cereal. (no granola or bananas if you are on  a weight loss diet).