Sleep and weight loss are interconnected: if your sleep is poor, it'll impact your ability to lose weight and keep it off. Once you've brushed up your knowledge on the fundamentals of sleep and weight loss, it's time to take a look at how you can put those learnings into action. Let's dive in.
Introduce a bedtime routine
Catching Z’s is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Sleep allows your body to recharge and regenerate, and helps your brain function properly. Not getting enough quality sleep interferes with your body’s ability to repair and, surprisingly, is also associated with increased obesity risk. Having a bedtime routine that you stick to each night can help regulate your internal body clock, mentally prepare you for sleep, and get you into good habits going forwards.
To help yourself manage your weight and overall health, try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. This week, try to build at least two of the following suggestions into your bedtime routine to improve your sleep:
- Turn off your phone and laptop screens in the hours leading up to bed.
- Try a calming activity before bed, such as listening to music or reading.
- Dim the lighting in your room to prepare yourself for sleep.
- Take a bath before bed: using essential oils like lavender can have a calming effect.
- Avoid drinking caffeine in the evening or using nicotine before bed.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
Optimise your nighttime environment for sleep
The conditions of your sleeping environment will aid the quality of your sleep and the time taken to get to sleep. Take care with the following:
- Bedroom hygiene: Keep your room free of clutter as an untidy room can promote stress. This can then prevent good quality sleep.
- Temperature: When you go to sleep, your core body temperature naturally declines. The reason for this is most likely two-fold: your brain is signalling to the body that it’s time to sleep and you’re conserving energy. Although some people prefer hotter temperatures, you’re more likely to promote good quality sleep in a cooler environment that supports a lower body temperature.
- Bedding: A comfortable mattress and bedding are important for a restful night’s sleep.
- Lighting: Your natural circadian rhythms are prompted by light so try and block out as much light as possible and use an eye mask if necessary.
- Sound: Avoid noise where possible as this will lead to fragmented and disturbed sleep throughout the night. Wear ear plugs if you’re in an environment where noise can’t be avoided.
- Sleep aids: Scents such as lavender promote restfulness.
Optimise light exposure
Your internal circadian rhythm is a natural process that regulates your sleep cycle and it’s largely dictated by light. In the day, spend time outdoors to absorb as much natural light as possible and train your body that it’s daytime. You should then decrease exposure to light in the evening, a couple of hours before you want to go to sleep. This includes limiting your exposure to blue light which is emitted from electronics such as TVs and laptops.
Maintain good sleep hygiene
You should limit what you do in your bedroom so that your brain associates the environment with going to sleep. Don’t watch TV or play on your phone while in bed and avoid daytime napping. Get into a regular bedtime routine (such as drinking herbal tea and tech-free time before bed) and reserve your bed for sleep and sex only.
Practise techniques to reduce nighttime stress
Stress is closely linked to poor quality sleep as we release hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, that heighten awareness and increase heart rate. This makes it hard to fall asleep. To avoid this sleep barrier, practise relaxation techniques before bed. This might include mindfulness, writing down your worries, or putting into practise a good bedtime routine.
Exercise to promote good quality sleep
Sedentary time (where you’re inactive) is associated with an increased risk of insomnia so exercise is a healthy way to combat this risk. It’s also thought that physical activity can alleviate daytime sleepiness and promote a better quality of sleep. However, you should avoid exercising at least 4 hours before bedtime as physical activity increases the stress hormone, cortisol, and adrenaline, which can make it difficult to fall asleep.