Friday, June 7, 2013

Fitness Friday: You Snooze, You Lose (Weight)

This post HAD to be about sleep. For me, today, after coming back to reality after a long weekend vacation and landing right in the middle of a hectic work week, there was not other option. I am JUST wiped. The best part of it all is that I actually have the luxury to get as much sleep as I want this weekend! Speaking of sleep, we all know how important it is to get a good amount of sleep to help us reach our health and fitness goals... right? Right. It's just as important as diet and exercise. Did you actually know though, that if you don't get enough (quality) sleep, it can result in weight gain? Yup. 

Sleep, fitness friday, health
There's an exception to every rule. Our family cat Winston
sleeps most of the day and never loses a pound :)

I love sleep but I will be the first to admit that every now and again, I just don't get enough. When this happens I sometimes play "catch-up" on a weekend and then try to get myself into a routine. I knew that sleep affected your health, but had never connected it with actually gaining weight - yet another lesson I learned from trainer-to-the-stars Harley Pasternak. Here are a few of the reasons:
  • Hormones get affected. When you don't get enough sleep the hormone in your body that tells you when you're full starts to deplete. This causes you to feel less satisfied and to eat more in order to compensate. Conversely the hormone that tells you when you're hungry increases so your appetite does too. Statistically tired people eat up to 20% more from this reason alone.
  • When we're tired we choose convenience over health and can make poor food choices. Been there, done that. Not only that, but we also tend to be drawn to sweets for an energy boost, all while moving less in general, so doing nothing to work any of this off. I can admit, for me tired = lazy.
  • The longer you are awake, the more time is available to eat. If you have dinner at 7 and go to sleep at midnight, chances are you might have a snack you otherwise wouldn't have. Eating late as we all know isn't good for you, and can actually hinder your ability to fall asleep. Vicious cycle right there! By going to bed at a reasonable time, you save yourself potentially hundreds of calories and allow your metabolism to kick in and do its magic.
Aside from weight gain, it's important to know that lack of sleep has also been linked to health problems such as (but not limited too) increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and a weakened immune system. What happens to most of us is we're just busy. When you're busy sacrifices have to be made. All too often, sleep is one of those sacrifices. We really need to stop this. I recently read that even getting just one extra hour of sleep each night can dramatically benefit your overall health! Aside from the amount of sleep we get, we also need to make sure it's a good, quality sleep - meaning undisturbed sleep with significant periods of deep sleep. The quality of your sleep is linked directly to our brains and is strongly related to feelings of tension, anger, anxiety, fatigue and confusion. 

I don't know about you, but I'm ready to practice and test this theory! :)

Tips to get a good sleep (taken from various studies & publications with my own 2 cents):
  1. Get ready for bed as soon as you get home. By taking the "getting ready for bed" steps right off the bat, you mentally and physically prepare and it's easier to fall asleep. Steps like getting into your sweats and washing your face.
  2. Make your bedroom a tech-free zone. This is not easy. I don't know about you, but I like to fall asleep to the TV some nights. That is not good at all. Especially because it keeps our minds active even when we're in our slumber. Also phones off. I'm a big fan of unplugging. If you have an iPhone check out the "Do Not Disturb" feature in your settings - I love it because it does the trick for me!
  3. Be active all day. This one makes sense on it's own and there are studies to support it.
  4. Have a caffeine cut-off. This one also makes sense. If I drink coffee it's only at work and only in the morning, but if you're a big time coffee drinker, try to cut back to a no coffee after 2pm rule for example.
  5. Plan ahead for tomorrow. I like this one. Basically have your lunch made, your outfit picked out, etc. and you will not find your mind busy with thinking about those things as you try to drift off.
  6. Take care in your sleep environment. When you're stressed you may not be able to sleep or get to sleep as easily. Did you know that something as simple as your room being messy can (consciously or subconsciously) stress you out? Fact. Take care in your sleep environment - don't have piles of clothes everywhere, don't have junk on your dresser, etc. It makes a difference!
Here's to a great weekend, and hopefully, a good nights sleep...

Previous Fitness Friday Posts:
My Basics | Running | Yoga | You are what you eat | Stretching and sweating myths

1 comment: