10 Habits to Help Lose Weight While Sleeping

woman sleeping with icons of hormone molecules above head

Think of getting sleep like charging your phone battery at night. You’re getting your body ready for the next day to function. During the time that we sleep, our body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain physical health. Not only does it help in these areas, but it can also be a game-changer when it comes to weight loss. 

Why is Sleep So Important? 

Ever wonder why babies and puppies are sleeping all the time? Their bodies are in the process of developing. Sleep is an important part of growth, no matter what age you are. 

It’s important that children get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night and 7-9 hours is optimal for adults. Less than 6 hours of sleep at any age, is associated with accidents and poor overall health. 

In a study of 68,000 people, those who slept less than 6 hours per night weighed an average of 5 pounds more and were 15% more likely to be overweight than those who slept more than 7 hours per night.

Getting adequate sleep supports the immune system, lowers the risk of serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease, reduces stress, and improves mood. It helps us to think more clearly and concentrate better. 

If you don’t prioritize your sleep, you will likely notice a domino effect in other areas of your life. So make it your mission to get good sleep at night, and watch your overall quality of life improve! 

What is the Relationship Between Sleep and Weight Loss? 

Being overweight can lead to sleep issues and worsen obesity. Diseases related to obesity such as sleep apnea, reflux, depression, asthma, and arthritis can make it harder to sleep which in hand, can make you gain more weight. 

There are two key hormones involved with sleep regulation: ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin, is a hunger hormone secreted by the stomach that increases hunger and fat production. Leptin is a satiety hormone secreted by the fat cells that decrease fat storage and hunger. These two hormones work to balance our weight and keep it stable. 

When you get a good night’s sleep, your hormones are balanced and weight loss can occur as expected. But when you don’t sleep well, your body experiences hormonal dysregulation. Ghrelin levels rise and leptin levels decrease—thus increasing your hunger and making you feel less full. This may cause you to get up in the middle of the night and grab a bite, which compounds the problem. Poor sleep also affects insulin production, which we know can lead to diabetes over time.

Inadequate sleep also leads to poor food choices. When you’re feeling tired, it’s common to seek foods that give you serotonin to feel better. Carbs give us serotonin through tryptophan. You may also reach for sugar to feed your fatigue and stay awake, but in the long run, will just cause you to crash. 

When we don’t sleep, we lack energy which makes it very hard to get the exercise and activity we need to contribute to weight loss. Just getting an extra hour or two of sleep can make a huge difference in weight loss. So if you are considering staying up just a little bit later to finish a paper or watch a movie, think again!

10 Habits to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

  1. Keep a set schedule. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. It’s all about circadian rhythm. If you vary your schedule too much or too often, it’s going to make it hard for your brain to get into a rhythm and for your pineal gland to secrete melatonin naturally. 
  2. Have a ritual. I like to refer to the bedroom as a “sleep castle”. Designate your bedroom as a place you go when it’s time to sleep–not to work on your computer, not to scroll on your phone, but a place to get your body and brain ready for sleep! 
  3. Keep the room cool. Keep the bedroom at 68 degrees or even a little cooler. Our bodies assimilate being “cool” with sleep so temperature control is very important.
  4. Invest in a good mattress and pillows. What we sleep on is an important factor to consider in getting the rest we need. Consider something like the Pod 4 Ultra by Eight Sleep. It has sensors and adjusts to support your sleeping behaviors. For example, it may raise you up if you’re snoring or turn you from side to side if you’re moving too much. A mattress like this will ensure a full night of REM sleep.
  5. Keep the room dark. Our circadian rhythm responds to light. Artificial light can throw that off by increasing blood pressure and heart rate. The brighter the light and the longer it’s on, the greater the hypertensive  response. If you have too much light in the room, it can contribute to an increase in insulin resistance as well. Consider investing in blackout curtains or wearing an eye mask. 
  6. Stay away from screens before bed. Similar to artificial light, looking at a screen disrupts your circadian rhythm and confuses your body. It can alter functions like heart rate, cellular recovery and can lead to other health problems. Try your very best to get off your screens at least an hour before bedtime. Alternatively, read a book or write in a journal lit by dim light.

Did you know that sleeping with the TV on, leads to a 20% risk of gaining 11 pounds over 5 years? 

  1. Take short naps. Who doesn’t love a nap when they are tired in the middle of the day? Naps are totally healthy, as long as you limit them to 20-30 minutes. Shorter naps are restorative, and you won’t go into a deep sleep making you drowsy. Anything longer than 30 minutes can confuse your circadian rhythm (your pineal gland won’t know when to secrete melatonin) making it harder to fall asleep at night. 
  2. Don’t eat or drink too late. Late-night snacks can be tempting, but they can also keep you up at night and lead to digestive issues. Did you know that caffeine stays in your body for 9 hours? Everyone’s caffeine tolerance is different but try not to drink caffeine at least 4-6 hours before bedtime. It increases your heart rate making you more alert. The same goes for drinking water. Try to drink as much as you can earlier in the day and a minimal amount closer to bed and overnight. Your bladder can wake you up to go to the bathroom disrupting your sleep cycle. 
  3. Get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Stress is such a common factor that can keep us up at night. It can be physically impossible to shut our brains down when our heads are spinning with thoughts. Before you go to bed, try writing in a journal anything that pops into your head – worrisome thoughts or things you need to do the next day. This helps train our brains to create an endpoint and power down! 
  4. Use white noise or a fan. If you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, this can be a helpful strategy to train your body and brain. It will associate the sound with sleep causing your body to secrete melatonin naturally. 

Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids for Adults

If you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s important to try behavioral modifications as a first step. But if you’re still struggling, there are some great sleep aids out there that you can try for support. 

Melatonin

Melatonin is a very common sleep aid that many people use. Make sure to get a high-quality brand. When taking melatonin, be sure to stick to a low dose of 5mg or less. If you take more than 5mg, it will be harder for your body to produce its own melatonin. 

Antihistamines

Antihistamines can be a useful tool if you’re having trouble sleeping. They will knock you out and allow you to get deep sleep but are not addictive. However, it’s important to be cautious because these medications can make you really sleepy and it can be hard to get up the next day. Some examples of effective antihistamines are Benadryl, Tylenol PM, and ZzzQuil. 

Magnesium Glycinate

Most of us are low in magnesium. This is a great supplement to consider taking regardless of if you struggle with sleep. Glycinate is a compound that doesn’t affect our gut and is generally well-tolerated. I recommend a 100-200 mg dose before bed. You will notice a huge difference–deeper sleep, and you will likely wake up feeling more refreshed.

Learn more about Magnesium-Glycinate by Metagenics. 

Tran-Q® Sleep 

This supplement is melatonin-free and purely herbal. It contains passionflower, California poppy, and lavender oil which activates GABA receptors–the calming hormone in our brain that gets us ready for sleep. This works in tandem with epinephrine. This supplement also contains jujube which promotes relaxation and decreased anxiety. 

Learn more about Tran-Q® Sleep by Metagenics.

Metasleep™

This supplement provides sustained release melatonin which means it’s released slowly over the course of the night, rather than one hit that wears off with a regular melatonin supplement. It contains Kavaton from the kava plant which activates GABA receptors, calms us down, and promotes relaxation. 

Learn more about Metasleep™ by Metagenics. 

CBD

CBD is something to consider trying, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Some people report that it helps them sleep, while others report that it can keep them up at night. It’s important to be aware of the THC component when exploring CBD products. If it’s your first time considering using CBD products, gather recommendations about where to get it and research the right dosage and combination of THC and CBD. 

Improve Your Sleep For Weight Loss and Beyond

Issues with sleep can be caused by a variety of factors, but as you get older, it can likely be related to hormone dysregulation. It’s common to see a decrease in hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone in women going through menopause and perimenopause. As a man or woman struggling with sleep, consider getting a personal sleep study done or having your hormones checked and replacing them. Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy is a game-changer for those needing supplementation. 

Struggling with sleep can be the ultimate challenge and it can be frustrating to crack the code, but know that there is hope and so many options out there to help improve your sleep for weight loss and beyond! 

Want to learn more? Join me Live on Facebook every month and check out our YouTube channel for the replays!

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