Tips and Tricks for Getting Enough Sleep
In the first part of our series on important factors that affect your ability to lose fat, we learned about sleep.
The takeaway is that most adults need 7 - 9 hours of quality sleep in order to allow the body to recover and hormonal systems to come out of a stressed state and get back to neutral. If that happens, you are more likely to have success with losing body fat. If not, it could be one important reason why you are struggling to see results.
But sleep doesn't come easily to a lot of us. Here are some things to try if you struggle with sleeping!
A recent study found that practicing mindfulness meditation led to greater improvements in sleep quality than just practicing better sleep habits. Of course, meditation has other benefits as well, including lessening anxiety, that may lead to better overall sleep.
Here are some free guided meditations that you can stream or download to help get you started: www.mindfulness-solution.com
2. Turn off screens 2 hours before bedtime.
When the sun sets, our bodies respond to the change in light by increasing melatonin (a crucial sleep hormone) levels, which help us fall asleep and stay asleep. However, blue LED lights that are emitted from screens can directly suppress melatonin levels and mess with our circadian rhythms.
Try reading a book (if you have a Kindle-type device that doesn't emit blue light, that shouldn't be a problem. IPads and phones are a no-go). Having a nice calming routine that you do every evening is a great habit to get into.
For example: screens off at 9pm, put on some calming music, make a cup of herbal tea, and spend a few minutes writing in a diary or making an agenda for the next day, and then read a book in bed. Doesn't that sound lovely?
Did you know the recommended minimum amount of exercise (according to the American College of Sports Medicine) every person should get each week is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity? That works out to 30 minutes of something that gets your heart pumping, at least 5 days per week. Brisk walking is great - but a slow stroll with your pup or bestie may not cut it.
This is not an arbitrary amount; it has been well studied to show dramatic health benefits compared with a sedentary lifestyle, and it can really help with sleep. The time of day shouldn't matter, although vigorous exercise late in the evening may make it harder for you to fall asleep. (Source)
4. Cut out caffeine after lunchtime.
Caffeine can stay in your system for over 8 hours, and sometimes even longer for women. In fact, the half-life (how we measure the rate of elimination) of caffeine is doubled for women taking oral contraceptives. If you struggle with sleeping at night, this one's a no brainer.
If you are still looking for more help, check out this article with 15 neat gadgets to help you dial in your sleep. From silent alarms to reduced blue light light bulbs, there are plenty of ways to control your environment to optimize for better sleep quality.
What's your favorite sleep trick? Comment below!