Let’s face it, there are tons of ways to fail at weight loss. It certainly seems a lot easier to fail than it does to succeed, doesn’t it?
Some fails related to diet and exercise are so obvious…you’re out to dinner with friends and you decide FOR the dessert instead of deciding AGAINST it! Hey, it really seemed like the right choice at the time, and we have all been there. Or you’re too tired after work so you skip your plan to go to the gym “just this once”. But how many times has it been “just this once”? And it’s obvious that if these are your choices with any regularity, your weight loss goal will elude you for sure.
But there is another factor that may be waging a more silent war on your efforts at weight loss while you sleep, or rather while you DON’T sleep. And this silent saboteur bears some responsibility for your inability to make good choices during your waking hours. Of course, I’m talking about your inability to get a good night’s sleep.
If any of the statements below resonate with you, the quality of your sleep may be sabotaging your efforts at weight loss:
I feel hungrier on the days that follow sleeplessness.
I get up frequently throughout the night to use the bathroom.
I hit the refrigerator last night when I couldn’t get back to sleep.
I stayed up too late to meet a work deadline, and now I’m just too tired to exercise today.
But what’s going on inside the body itself when you’re not getting a good night’s sleep?
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more cortisol, which is the stress hormone associated with fat gain, especially in the stomach area. Lack of sleep also causes a hormone called ghrelin to rise. Ghrelin is known as the “hunger hormone,” and it can make you feel hungry and that you need more food than ordinary to feel satiated. Finally, not enough sleep makes you cranky. And who hasn’t made poor food and drink choices when they were cranky? We tend to seek “comfort foods” at those times, and those foods are typically packed full of sugar and flour….Public Enemy No. 1 (and No. 2) of weight loss.
Fear not, it’s possible to make relatively simple changes to improve the quality of your sleep, and these simple changes can help your efforts at permanent weight loss. Try on one or more of the five bedtime changes listed below, and see which of them might fit for you personally:
Create an evening ritual for yourself. An evening ritual that signals the shift from your stressful day to a restful night sleep can include whatever is meaningful and relaxing to you personally. What works for me are reading, meditating, a reflection on what I am grateful for, and a warm bath. A regular pre-bedtime ritual signals your body that the day is now behind you, and a night of regenerating sleep is just ahead so your brain can stop thinking about the day.
Stop drinking and eating at least two to three hours before bedtime. This will avoid digestive challenges and middle of the night bathroom trips. Caffeine is said to stay in your system for up to 6 hours, try eliminating the consumption of caffeine within 6 hours of your bedtime and see if that helps.
Sleep in a completely dark and electronic-free sleeping space. Darkness not only cues your body to prepare for sleep, but light from electronics can stimulate your body and cue your body to awaken. The best rule of thumb is to avoid electronics and stimulation such as television programming for at least an hour before bedtime.
Consider if it is time to change up your pillow, mattress or other sleeping paraphernalia. A too old mattress can wreak havoc on our bodies and the quality of our sleep. Also, be mindful that your pillow or sheets may contain materials that are triggering an allergic reaction in your body. The longer your mattress is slept on, the more its components break down and the more “bodily stuff” is trapped inside for you to breathe in every night. Gross, right? Even if it is YOUR bodily stuff! Your bed should be your safe haven and a total treat to climb into. The comfier and more perfect you find your bed, the more relaxed you are settling in for sleep, and of course, a better night sleep will follow. Buy silky pillowcases or sheets (or flannel if that’s what you personally find that more cozy), buy some fabric spray to enhance your sleep experience, such as lavender which promotes relaxation. Have fun experimenting with what will create the ideal sleeping environment for you.
Sex! Need I say more? Who doesn’t get a better sleep after sex? Even if you might feel like you’re too tired, take the time to enjoy a little pre-bedtime activity if you’re lucky enough to share your bed with someone (or even if you’re not). Sexual release makes it easier to fall asleep, and stay that way until morning. Sex also lowers cortisol, which we already know plays a key role in weight loss.
So….if you continue to struggle with weight loss and maintaining a healthy body, try getting a good night sleep for a change. Either way, one less thing working against your efforts at weight loss is a good thing, AND you’ll feel so much better if you’re well rested!
The Invitation …
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me. What do you have to lose but some weight??