You’re eating right, you’re working out every day, but you’re still not seeing the results you’re hoping for? The answer might be in the bedroom.
No, we’re not talking about sex (even though sex can be a great calorie-burner), we’re talking about the quiet culprit behind weight loss sabotage: sleep.
As it turns out, not getting enough sleep can do serious damage to your weight loss efforts.
For one thing, being tired zaps you of your inhibitions. When you’re sleepy, you feel like crap, so the reward center of your brain is looking for something to make you feel better. That quiet voice that normally tells you to put down the cheeseburger for a salad? Yeah, lack of sleep tends to shut her right up.
Not only does exhaustion disinhibit you, but it also messes with your hormones, making them work against all your hard work.
Ghrelin is the hormone that lets your brain know when it’s time to eat. The more sleep-deprived you are, the more ghrelin your body makes, so you’ll likely feel a lot hungrier than you would if you got the full 7-9 hours of recommended shut-eye.
Another hormone, leptin, is responsible for letting you know when you’re full. After a night of tossing and turning, your leptin levels become depleted so your brain tells you to eat more food than normal.
When you don’t get enough sleep, these hormones will leave you hungry with an insatiable appetite–a lethal combination for weight loss.
The good news is, beyond getting to bed at a reasonable hour, there are a lot of things you can do to ensure you get the rest you need to stay fit. Following these sleep guidelines from the American Sleep Association is valuable ammunition to add to your fitness arsenal.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday lets your body know what it’s supposed to be doing and when it’s supposed to happen. Sleep comes more easily when your body knows when to call for it.
After a long night of scrolling through Instagram instead of getting your beauty rest, little sounds better than an afternoon nap. But naps get in the way of the aforementioned regular sleep schedule your body needs to develop healthy sleep habits.
No screens in bed
Turn off your TV, put your phone on sleep mode, and tuck the iPad away one hour before you hit the sack. That blue-and-white glow from your gadgets prevents your brain from releasing melatonin, the hormone that lets you know it’s bedtime.
Make your bedroom a sleep oasis—and nothing more
Texting, eating, watching TV, or doing anything other than sleeping in your bed confuses your brain about the primary task it needs to be taking care of while there. Reserve your bed only for sleeping if you want to maximize rest.
Hide the clock
“If I fall asleep now, I’ll have 6 hours… if I fall asleep NOW I’ll have 5 hours…” if this sounds familiar, it’s time to hide your clock. Constantly checking the time and conducting mental countdowns increases anxiety, which decreases the peace of mind necessary to shutting down.
Cover Photo Credit: Ryan McGuire