We are currently running a six week body challenge. There are several parts of the challenge our members are trying to accomplish daily including:
- Planning meals daily
- Workout daily
- 10,000 steps a day
- 100 ounces of water
- 8 hours of sleep
Guess which of these is the hardest for everyone to achieve? Well, you’ve read the title so you probably already knew the answer was going to be sleep! But why would we push sleep so heavily in a challenge that is about losing weight and getting in shape? It’s just that important. Good, quality sleep is one of the most important components of your health.
Sleep should come naturally, shouldn’t it? Unfortunately in our very unnatural world these days it’s becoming more and more evasive. Think about how many babies actually have trouble sleeping-that’s a clue that we’re probably doing something a little incorrectly.
Losing weight is as easy as sleeping better.
Just kidding. But it really does help. That’s why we are focusing on it with our fitness clients. There are many studies that have proven the effects of sleep on weight loss. In one study two sets of dieters ate the same and exercised the same. The only difference was their sleep-one group only got 5.5 hours of sleep. The group that got three more hours of sleep lost 55% more body fat. JUST BY SLEEPING. Yep, your body is a fat burning machine at night. It’s also repairing any physical and mental damage from the day before which allows you to wake up ready to fight the battle with renewed motivation and willpower the next day!
Other studies have shown that more sleep equals less calorie consumption. Moreover, the worse your sleep is, the worse your diet becomes. That is, the more tired you are, the more likely you are to go for the super unhealthy food. The less tired you are, the better you’re able to make healthy choices. Hopefully those facts will motivate you to implement the 8 tips we have to get better sleep.
Here’s the deal: In this modern world, there are so many things we have to train ourselves to do that should come naturally. This includes sleep, relaxing, not being obese, being active, not being sick, cooking, you name it. With all of our advances, we’re much better at technology but we seem to be losing some of our more instinctual practices. So, we need to start from that mindset. This is something that should come naturally but it doesn’t and that’s okay. With that mindset, we can give ourselves permission to dedicate time and effort to learn how to do the thing. In this case, that’s sleep. So, just realize it might mean an overhaul to what you’ve been doing. But that’s okay! Here are eight things you can do to improve your sleep.
1. Good light.
Our bodies produce hormones that regulate sleep based on the natural sunlight and darkness we’re exposed to during the day. If you can purposefully get sunlight during the day, you might find it improves your sleep cycles. Again, in this modern world we live in, it’s not unusual to wake up in a dark house and then go to work in a dark office, never really getting any real sunlight. If you can, be purposeful about getting out into nature each day and soaking in some sun.
Bonus tip: If you have trouble waking up, know that sunlight sends a wakeup signal to the brain. You can purchase a lamp for this or use your own windows / curtains to stimulate wake up time! One study showed that when sunlight entered the eyeball, the entire brain lit up. In the morning, when your eyeballs receive sunlight, you stop producing melatonin and start producing serotonin and cortisol in order to get ready for the day! If you do that often enough, your circadian rhythm can be established and your sleep cycles can improve.
2. Bad light.
If sunlight is our great sleep ally, then we need to consider all other light the enemy. Yep, all other light. Did you know that your eyeball contains one billion working parts? It can sense everything.
Personally, as a parent I was shocked to discover that night lights might be interfering with my kiddo’s sleep. There I was, assuming I was being the best parent ever (that’s a joke) but in reality I was inhibiting my son’s sleep because any source of light can disrupt sleep because your eyeball, even behind your eyelids. Some things then, to do, are to use dark curtains, remove night lights, block lights from electronic device (like a tv or Alexa, etc). Getting used to the very dark bedroom might be difficult, but it will help you sleep better.
3. Watch what you eat & drink.
So many times people have told me “that doesn’t affect me,” when it comes to their sleep. Well, it’s more likely that you’re just so out of touch with what’s going on with your body, that you just don’t realize what’s really happening. I speak from experience. After my third child, I decided to lose the weight from all of them. And I did. I was proud! As a person who’d suffered from sleep issues all my life, but especially after becoming a mother, I’d pretty much given up on getting good sleep. I assumed it just wasn’t for me. However, the more healthy I got, physically and spiritually, the better my sleep got. Eventually I was actually sleeping pretty regularly for six hours at a time which was unheard of for me throughout my lifetime. One night, though, I lay awake wondering, WHYYYY? I noticed that my great new sleeping pattern got disrupted with regularity. It wasn’t until I read an article about how difficult beef was to digest that I finally put two and two together.
As a “single mom” (deployed husband), I’d been treating myself one night a week to eat out at a local restaurant. I had the hamburger and fries while the kids ate free. No dishes! It was great! I did eventually realize that my body was having a difficult time digesting that meal and it was working overtime while I was supposed to sleep. I never would’ve realized that was a problem until I’d completely cleared my body so that I could actually tell the difference. This was also when I definitely noticed that any caffeine after 11 (ie: unsweet tea) would keep me up. Eating clean and naturally was the only time I was able to discern exactly what effects these things were having on my body and sleep.
And so it is with most of us. There may be a storm going on inside your body that you’re not aware of. Give your body a chance to rest and really see if your sleep improves. That means:
- Eat as clean and naturally as possible.
- Have a caffeine cutoff time.
- Don’t eat or drink (other than water) any later than three hours before bed.
4. Temperature control.
Studies show you sleep better when you’re cool. This can be tough to manage, but make the effort. It’s a simple way to try to improve your sleep cycles. Consider wearing less clothing, opting for lighter blankets, turning down the ac, using a fan or even a chili mat for your bed!
5. Be active.
This goes without saying. Have you ever had a day where you fell asleep when your head hit the pillow? If only it were always that easy. Here’s the thing: you have to earn your sleep. In a perfect world, our daily activities would ensure that we are working and using up our energy so that we’re actually tired at night. Unfortunately, that’s not the case as most of us are required to be somewhat sedentary with our drives. Then we’re in the car. Then we’re sitting on the chair at kid’s practice or on the couch trying to relax. While our minds are certainly spent, our physical bodies aren’t crying out for sleep.
Because of that, you’ve got to intentionally push your body during the day. That means you need to get in a workout, a walk, a chore, a recreational sport or all of the above daily. Your body is designed to move. You’ve got to find a way to move it daily, both in the form of targeted exercise mode and in a recreational way.
6. Get on a schedule.
Having the same bedtime and wake time throughout the week is a great way to improve your sleep. You might want to stay up or sleep in on certain days, but all it really does is mess with your rhythm. Your body will naturally start waking up at the time you train it to wake if you implement these tips. That means you’ll be less sleepy because your body will have naturally come out of the deep sleep state before waking rather than crashing into wakehood with some sort of alarm.
This schedule can also be laced with cues for your body. For instance, when I turn on my fan, my body hears that as a bedtime signal. Likewise, if you can have certain lowlights, smells, sounds and routine that get you ready for bed, your body will start to learn those and you’ll find sleep easier to get.
7. Ditch the electronics.
If you’ve been paying attention at all, you know that the blue light from electronics messes with your sleepy signals. The electronics you’re watching and using are sending a signal to your brain that the sun is out and it’s time to keep going! Try to eliminate them at least an hour before bed. You can also use blue light glasses. Best case scenario, mimic the sun’s schedule and eliminate all blue light at sunset. Read, listen to music, play games, take a bath or use the bedroom for it intended purposes 😉 instead.
8. Get your mind right.
Now that you’ve gotten rid of electronics, you can get your mind right before bed. The first way to do this is to make sure your bedroom is the sanctuary it should be. Calming, restful, peaceful, lovely. Whatever that means to you, your bedroom should represent it. Guess what that means? No bills, clutter, paperwork, computers or other stuff that doesn’t meet the sanctuary criteria in the bedroom.
Next, consider keeping a journal by the bed. Use it to note things to be grateful for at the end of the day. You can also use it to clear your brain before bed. If you write down anything that’s on your mind, it kind of has a therapeutic effect. On one hand, your brain can literally “write it off” and stop being so anxious about whatever the matters are and on the other hand, your brain will go to work as solving the problem whilst you sleep.
Alrighty, that’s our eight tips to help you get better sleep so that it is easier to lose weight!
If you need help with this or any other life change, please get in touch. We are happy to help!
Ideal Balance is The Life Coaching Facility in Navarre, Florida that focuses on Fitness, Family & Finance. We help our clients create the discipline & habits they need to strip off what’s holding them back from living the life God created them to live. We work with clients in 1-on-1 sessions in person, virtually and in small groups. We offer life coaching, financial coaching, health coaching. We also offer personal training and home organization locally here in Navarre, Florida. Fill out the information below if you’re interested in our help and we will contact you.