Did you know that humans are the only species that deprive themselves of sleep on purpose? Whether it's because you have to finish up work late into the evenings (#taxseason for our accountants out there), or you had a social commitment that lasted late into the night, there are definitely times when we choose to not sleep as much as we should. It's totally normal, but when it comes to losing weight, fitting your clothes better, and increasing your energy sleep is an ESSENTIAL part of the equation.
Even if you're eating well and exercising frequently enough, if you aren't sleeping your body isn't recovering and that can put a huge stopper on your progress. If you've experience this, you've probably asked yourself "what am I doing wrong, why can't a lose the weight...I'm doing everything right!" And the answer is not exactly as simple as eating and exercising.
There are multiple components that go into losing weight. Yes, what you eat, how much you eat, exercise, all of those things matter, but there are other components as well: stress, sleep, hormones, metabolism...the list is quite long.
Sleep is super important because during sleep is when your body recovers and rejuvenate...so it only makes sense that if you aren't getting enough of it, or enough quality sleep, your body isn't going to function properly. Sleep is also one of the first things that you can manipulate (other than eating and exercise) if you're stuck. Check out the tips below so you can start moving in the right direction again!
Monitor your caffeine intake: Depending on how sensitive you are to it, caffeine consumed earlier in the day can have you tossing and turning at night. Track your caffeinated drinks in whatever tracking device you're using to monitor your food, and pay attention to the time you had your last coffee on days you can't fall asleep. Is there a pattern with late afternoon coffee and not sleeping? Try setting a "last call" for caffeinated beverages; a general recommendation is no later than 4 pm.
Create a bedtime routine: It's ideal that this routine does not include TV and phone screens, with light that tells your brain to stay awake. Have a 30 minute routine that might include reading, meditation, soothing music, and/or dim lighting. Create signals and an environment that tells your body it is time to wind down. This might mean ear plugs if you live somewhere noisy and/or blackout curtains in the bedroom to help you stay asleep.
Keep consistent meal times: Food takes time to digest, so it's best not to have big portion sizes right before bed. Overeating late at night can disrupt sleep. If you're having a snack before bed, consider something with casein protein. Casein is slower digesting than whey and is absorbed more fully over a long period of time, such as the hours you are sleeping.
Eat Gut-Healthy Food: This means food high in micronutrients and fiber, such as fruits and vegetables. A healthy digestive system supports quality sleep through its role in melatonin regulation. Some people do well taking a probiotic at night to help with digestion and in turn help you stay asleep. As a precaution, consult your doctor before beginning to take anything.
We need quality sleep to recover physically and mentally. You might find it beneficial to begin tracking sleep, or to use a wearable device that monitors sleep patterns. With better quality sleep you'll find it easier to adhere to your nutrition plan, to perform well in workouts, and will likely see better results when it comes to losing weight, fitting your clothes better, and increasing your energy.