How many hours of sleep do you get most nights? How many pounds do you want to lose? How alert and motivated are you throughout the day?
These are all connected. How many hours of sleep we get can affect our wellness and waistline as much as the food we eat, how much we exercise, and how well we manage our stress.
Many of us struggle with a good night's rest. We can’t fall asleep because our minds are racing or we fall asleep, but can’t stay asleep. We might wake to use the bathroom (I swear after age 40 it becomes VERY common), or even wander into the kitchen at 2am. Sleep deprivation is not easy to overcome, but so crucial for our well-being.
My struggle for sleep started in college. I worked nearly full time and chose a college and a major in my STRETCH ZONE. I remember laying awake for hours thinking of all the things I needed to do, the things I had forgotten to do, and then stressing about not being able to fall asleep - all making it impossible to actually sleep. I spent many hours in lectures trying to just stay awake. College, for me, turned into a vicious cycle of sleepless nights and very tiresome days. I had strep throat constantly, had no energy or drive to exercise, and felt awful physically.
Since college, my sleep has improved but it takes effort and discipline. I naturally wake up early (Sleeping past 5am is a challenge for me) so going to bed early is crucial in order for me to get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation can cause all sorts of problems inside and outside our body.
Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Lack of sleep can hurt these cognitive processes in many ways. First, it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently and can also impact our work performance and productivity.
When it comes to body weight, it may be that if you snooze, you lose.
Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity. Research shows that sleep deprivation can cause leptin to decrease (this is the hormone that tells your body to stop eating). The hormone gherlin can increase (this is the hormone that can increase your appetite). Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite, it can also increase your cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. These changes in hormones can happen after only a couple days of bad sleep. Imagine what might happen after a few years!
How many hours do we need?
Adults are supposed to get about 7-9 hours of sleep.
It Takes Work, Effort, and Time.
If you want to improve your sleep, you’ve gotta work on your nighttime routine and behaviors. There are many things we can do to try to get a good night's sleep. It takes work figuring out the “key” for YOU! Put in the effort - it could be life-changing! Here is an article with 12 tips to help improve your sleep.
My daughter has a hard time falling asleep and now listens to guided imagery each night before bed. It has been so helpful! I highly recommend it. I also found this adult version that is free for Amazon Prime members.
If you sleep well, you might eat a better breakfast tomorrow morning, which might motivate you to eat a better lunch, which could boost your mood and energy, which might motivate you to exercise, which could help you sleep better tomorrow night, which just might help you lose those extra pounds you’ve been struggling with. You will FEEL and DO BETTER!