In Part 1 of this post I told you how not getting enough sleep can affect your ability to lose weight – even if you’re dieting and exercising. But if you have trouble sleeping, how do you fix that? Here are 6 tips to help you drift off more easily and stay asleep longer:
1. Get into a sleep habit
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – preferably earlier rather than later. People who go to bed late and wake up late are at higher risk of gaining weight.
2. Turn off your screen
Turn off all electronic screens at least one hour before bed. The blue-based light emanating from an iPhone or iPad mimics daylight, causing your brain to halt production of melatonin – the sleep hormone. Read an old fashioned paperback instead.
3. Exercise – during the day.
It’s well known that daily cardiovascular exercise can help you sleep better. However, try to avoid exercising vigorously too close to bedtime, as the energizing effects may impact your ability to fall asleep. Gentle yoga or stretching is a better choice for nighttime exercise.
Sometimes our bodies are tired but our brains won’t turn off. Discovering how to quiet your mind for as little as 10 minutes per day can help you learn to release worries and drift off peacefully. Not sure how to start? Try an app like Headspace or take a course – they’re offered in many community centres.
5. Watch what – and when – you eat.
Nighttime snacking can seriously derail your weight loss goals. Most of us eat our biggest meal of the day at night – and then snack afterward while watching TV or working on the computer. Consider eating a high-protein breakfast including healthy fats, and an adequate lunch that’s low in added sugars. If you’re not hungry in the morning, it might be because you’ve eaten too much the night before.
6.Watch what – and when – you drink.
Everyone knows coffee keeps you up. But did you know caffeine’s effects can last from 8 to 14 hours? Good to know if you enjoy an after-dinner espresso. Or three! And if you enjoy an alcoholic drink or two to help you nod off, be careful: when the sedating effect of alcohol wears off after a few hours you’ll wake up in the middle of the night.
There are many other benefits to getting the 7.5-9 hours of sleep we require every night. Improved focus, more alertness, fewer mood swings and better immune function are just a few of the perks of better quality sleep – and those last stubborn 10 pounds might just melt away, too!