Adopting Healthy Sleeping Habits
Poor sleeping habits can contribute to weight gain in adults and children. According to researchers from the University of Colorado, adults who get less than six hours of sleep on average per night, and children who get under 10 hours per night, are more likely to struggle with obesity than their well-rested counterparts.
There are two primary ways in which sleep may influence weight loss efforts:
- Metabolic changes: Sleep loss increases fat storage, which leads to weight gain. This happens as a result of a slowed metabolism that reduces the body’s ability to metabolize fats and carbohydrates, which can lead to increased blood sugar levels.
- Hormone fluctuations: Inadequate sleep is associated with fluctuating cortisol levels, a hormone that regulates your appetite. By missing out on sleep you may feel hungry even after eating.
When you don’t get enough sleep you are likely to grow mentally and physically fatigued, and this can lead to unhealthy behavior like increased sugar and caffeine consumption, and reduced physical activity—factors that are likely to further contribute to weight gain.
Obesity Linked to Sleep Disorders
Losing weight can prompt a cycle of healthier behavior that includes better sleeping habits. Those who struggle with obesity are at a heightened risk of developing a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. Losing weight can significantly reduce the severity of sleep apnea, helping you to experience more restful sleep.
Other obesity-related factors that may influence sleeping patterns include:
- Severe back pain
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Habitual snoring
Healthy Habits for Improved Sleep
As you lose weight, it may become easier for you to experience higher quality sleep. Adopting certain sleeping habits in addition to healthier dietary and exercise habits can further improve your quality and duration of sleep.
Here are several habits proven to encourage better quality sleep:
- Remove distractions like electronics and pets from your bedroom so you can sleep undisturbed
- Reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Practice some form of meditation or relaxation exercise just before bed. This may include basic stretching, light reading or another mindless task.
- Create a set bed-time so your body can more easily adjust to your sleeping routine
Exercising regularly is also associated with improved sleeping patterns, though you’ll want to be careful not to work out too close to bedtime. Engaging in a moderate-intensity activity like walking up to three hours prior to going to sleep may help you experience better rest.