#Fitness Friday: Sleep your way to a skinnier you!

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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. As discussed in this WebMD article, 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.
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 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.
Create a soothing 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:
  1. Lavender
  2. Chamomile
  3. Bergamot
  4. Sandalwood
  5. Mandarin
  6. Lilac
  7. Rose
  8. Vanilla
  9. Pumpkin
  10. Jasmine
 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!

 

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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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