Weight Loss and Sleep: How To Sleep Your Way To A Skinnier You!

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Weight loss and sleep are intricately tied together.  Basically, sleep affects metabolism just like nutrition affects the brain. Getting quality sleep is an important part of weight loss. I thought I would share a few ways to get a better night’s sleep and kick start your metabolism into healthy weight loss. 

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Weight Loss and Sleep. How to Sleep Your Way to a Skinnier YOU

How stress affects weight loss

Losing weight is hard, especially during this time of year when holiday parties, cheese balls, and candy canes all conspire against us! Stress and a really long to do list can mean late nights and very little sleep. Combine a shorter night sleep with an increased number of calories and it is no wonder our underwear seems to be shrinking!

Recent studies have shown that people who sleep less have a tendency to WEIGH more. Two studies conducted at the University of Chicago in Illinois and at Stanford University in California have looked into the role that the hormones leptin and ghrelin play in appetite control. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, while leptin tells the brain when you are full.

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How are sleep and metabolism linked? When you don’t get enough sleep, leptin levels drop and you don’t feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to increase which in turn stimulates your appetite, so you want more food.  Does sleeping too much cause weight gain?  There doesn’t seem to be a direct correlation.  Activity levels during waking hours seem to play a bigger role. 

red clock showing the 11th hour

How much sleep do you need to lose weight?

So, you know that weight loss and sleep are tied together.  Now, how much sleep do you need to lose weight?  While there is no magic number, there are certain guidelines that will help. Sleep and weight loss research at Very Well Fit suggest that women who sleep 5 hours or less per night generally weigh more than women who sleep 7 hours per night.

So, while conventional wisdom says ‘get 8 hours of sleep a night’, it seems like at least 7 hours may be enough to kick start your metabolism.   You may still be falling asleep in your coffee cup in the morning, but you will at least have given your waistline what it needs to slim down.  

feet on scale

Can getting more sleep help you lose weight?

While you aren’t going to get supermodel thin by sleeping 12 hours a day, studies do seem to indicate that getting the proper amount of sleep will effect your appetite.  Aim for 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep as many nights as possible.  How many calories do you burn sleeping for 8 hours? On average, a 150 lb. person burns about 63 calories in one hour. So, if that person sleeps for eight hours,  they burn about 504 calories.  

Products for better sleep:

Make up a batch of lavender bath bombs  and try a few of these other products for better sleep:

Woman waking up

How to get a better night’s sleep:

How can you ensure that you get a good nights sleep and don’t toss and turn all night? Here are a few suggestions to help you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep til morning so that your hormones can help you fight off that cupcake craving!

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule:  Make sure to go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time every day. Staying up late on the weekends and sleeping til noon will throw off your sleep cycle for the rest of the week, too.
  • Be smart about napping: If you must make up for a short night sleep, try taking an early afternoon nap and limit it to 30 minutes or less.
  • Fight that late day drowsiness:  Too late in the day for a nap but you are really dragging? Get up and get moving! If you have time for a brisk walk, grab your sneakers and go. If time is short, grab the laundry, do the dishes, or vacuum the living room. 15 minutes of brisk activity will help fight that drowsiness without messing up your good night’s sleep!
  • Naturally regulate your sleep-wake cycle: Back in the ‘olden days’ we got up with the sun and went to bed with the sun. There is a reason for that…sunlight plays an important part in our natural sleep rhythms. Open the blinds to let the light in during the day and spend some time outside in the sun. When it is time to sleep, make sure the room is dark. Use an eye mask if the moon is bright and make sure all monitors and TVs are off.

person in bed reading

How to create a healthy bedtime routine:

As evening approaches, turn down the lights and have a cup of herbal tea. Make sure your bedroom is cool and the bed is comfortable.
Essential oils are a great way to help promote sleep naturally. According to the Warm Milk Journal, these are the top 10 essential oils to help promote sleep:

  • Vetiver Oil: This is a rich and earthy smelling oil. I bought it for my teenage son because he is very high strung and it is supposed to help with anxiety.
  • Lavender
  • Chamomile Oil: It is known for its calming, soothing, and relaxing properties. It has a light, floral scent.
  • Ylang Ylang: This smells a bit fruity with a hint of citrus and mint.
  • Jasmine
  • Bergamot oil: This can make your skin very sensitive to the sun so don’t apply to skin that will be out in the sun a lot.
  • Sandalwood oil: This is a  rich, woodsy oil.
  • Rose
  • Marjoram oil: Yes, you can use this for more than just for cooking!
  • Mandarin
  • Lilac
  • Cedarwood oil: If it is too strong for your liking, put it in an essential oil diffuser.

close of photo of person holding slice of pizza

Is going to bed hungry bad?

If you are anything like me, you crave a right before bed snack.  But, is eating before bed bad for you?  Should you go to bed hungry or indulge in something to curb your appetite?   Sorry to say that people who eat before bed are more likely to gain weight.  Sad but true. 

lose weight better sleep mindmap - a sketch drawing on cocktail napkin with a glass of water and pen

A bedtime snack is basically an extra meal.  And, extra calories means extra weight gain.  Try to eat more during the day so you aren’t hungry right before bed. While weight loss and sleep are definitely linked, the type of food you eat before bed really does matter. If you do indulge in a bedtime snack, choose one of these to help promote sleep:

Bedtime Snacks That Help You Fall Asleep

  • A small glass of low fat milk or a low fat cheese stick.
  • A high protein snack like nuts, scrambled eggs,  or roasted chickpeas.
  • A bowl of whole grain cereal with skim milk.
  • A peanut butter crackers.
  • Low fat yogurt with granola sprinkled on top.  Try my pistachio granola!
  • A sliced apple with a small amount of cream cheese.

clock next to plate with tape measure and spoon

Lack of sleep does affect weight loss!

Remember, weight loss and sleep are definitely tied together.  As we approach the new year and so many people are hoping to get in shape and slim down in the coming months, don’t neglect your body’s need for a good night sleep. You may just be able to say ‘no thanks’ to seconds at the dinner table if you manage to get a solid 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Of course, in my case that probably means I should kick the dog off the bed…it is hard to get a decent night sleep when there is a shepherd lying on my feet!

Comments

  1. Important reminders. I wish I was better about getting to sleep earlier--but after the kids are in bed is my only time to work or spend with my husband!
  2. I definitely don't get enough sleep - esp in the Winter time.

    Thanks for the great tips!
  3. Those are some great tips! Thanks so much- I've started exercising but I know I'm not getting enough sleep these days! I'll stumble you!

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