Monday, December 31, 2012

You snooze, you lose...literally

I'm sure that everyone has heard the phrase "You snooze, you lose". Well those words are truer than you realize. Particularly if you are looking to lose weight and belly fat.  In fact, let's rephrase that by saying "you snooze more, you lose more fat". How about that? :)

There is existing and current research evidence that sleep is a crucial factor in controlling your weight.  Just this past year, scientists as the University of Washington studied the effects of sleep habits of of both men and women and the effect of sleep habits on their BMI (Body Mass Index - which is a measure of someone's weight to their height. A lower number means a more healthy and leaner ratio.)

The men and women who reported getting more sleep had a lower BMI number. Which is what you want. It also showed that those people that did not get enough sleep had increased hunger and cravings throughout the day, which as we all know can contribute to expanding waistlines.

Lack of sleep can also cause difficulty in concentrating; reduced ability to cope with stress; Sluggishness during the day; the desire to nap in the afternoon; memory lapses; moodiness; frequent colds and infections; and lack of productivity in work and every day projects.

So before you ditch that extra hour of sleep to dash off a few more emails or finish that project or report you are working on. Or stay up a 1/2 later to watch a TV show or to organize your to do list for the next day. Think about how much easier tomorrow will be if you get that sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep try these tips to help you get back on track.

1) Sleep in complete darkness. Even a small amount of light has been shown to reduce a key sleep hormone called melatonin. Banish the bright lights of your alarm clock and put up some blinds or blackout curtains for your windows.

2) Avoid "blue" light leading up to bedtime. Light from your computer screen, TV and most overhead lights is in the blue spectrum. Your brain reads this as mid-day light and it inhibits the hormonal "wind down" before bed. So turn off the electronics an hour before bedtime and keep lights dim.

3) Stay cool. Your bedroom temperature should stay around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This mimics your body's natural night time temperature and improves sleep quality.

4) Maintain a bedtime ritual. Come up with a ritual or routine that leads up to lights out and stick to it every night. It will help you unwinds and is a signal to the body that sleep is near.

5) Exercise! Yes, exercise. Studies have shown that people who exercise fall asleep faster and stay asleep faster. But try not to exercise right before bedtime.

Here's to better sleep and better health!

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