You know that to be healthy, you need to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Want to lose weight? Eat less and move more. But what happens if you do everything right, yet the scale just doesn’t budge? The answer could be simply that you are not sleeping enough.
Trying to fit work, family time, meal prep and exercise into every day just might be taking a toll on the amount of sleep you’re getting. According to Shape magazine, sleeping less than seven hours a night can reduce the benefits of eating healthy. Lack of sleep can cut back on your fat loss, can make you feel hungrier and can zap your energy, causing you to exercise less or not at all. Studies have proven that those who are sleep-deprived can experience a 55% reduction in fat loss. Inadequate sleep can also cause your cortisol level to rise. This stress hormone if often associated with weight gain because it makes you crave food more and never feel satiated.
Eat or Drink to Sleep
Avoiding caffeine or heavy heartburn-activating foods before bedtime are obvious solutions. There are some foods and beverages you can try, though, to help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. The National Sleep Foundation suggests the following:
-Complex carbs, or whole-grains can help you feel full through the night. Try popcorn (easy on that salt and butter!), oatmeal, or whole-wheat crackers topped with a natural nut butter.
-Nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, actually contain melatonin, which is a hormone that helps your sleep cycle.
-Cottage cheese or low fat turkey slices contain tryptophan, which can increase serotonin levels that make you sleepy. Lean proteins like these can also keep you feeling full through the night.
-Caffeine-free tea can help you relax, especially chamomile, ginger or peppermint teas. Several brands of tea make blends specifically made for bedtime (Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime is my personal favorite!).
-Warm milk can not only be as soothing as a cup of tea, it also contains both tryptophan and melatonin.
-Certain fruits can be helpful. Tart cherries or tart cherry juice contain a lot of melatonin, but bananas, pineapples and oranges are also good choices.
Notice that having a glass of wine isn’t on this list? While it may make you sleepy initially, it is not a good idea to have any alcohol right before bedtime. Digesting alcohol can actually wake you up during the night, disrupting those ZZZs.
Hopefully, by giving some of these suggestions a try, you will be able to enjoy a better night’s sleep! Ideally, you need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. And make sure you are getting quality sleep. Fitness trackers and apps can help you determine how you are sleeping. Adequate rest can truly make a difference, not just on the scale, but in your overall health. If you would like to learn more about how you can achieve a healthy lifestyle, FT is here to help! Contact our Registered Dietitian or personal trainers for more information.