Sleep Hygiene

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Remember the days of falling into bed, closing your eyes and opening them 12 hours later? As a child, when my mom put me to bed, she’d end with, “now roll over and go to sleep.” And guess what, I DID! Remember the days of napping for six hours, staying up until 3 am and then doing it all again? We may have deprived ourselves of sleep but when we wanted to, it came easily and it LARGE quantities.

Now, we lay down and stare at the ceiling. Wake up every hour, or are up for hours in the middle of the night, exhausted, but unable to sleep. Sleep is a THING now. It often doesn’t come easily and can be a major stressor.

The importance of sleep and fat loss.

And the truth is, when it comes to weight loss or body composition changes, behind your nutrition, sleep, hydration and stress are the MOST important things. Sleep matters, for more then just not feeling tired. For health and wellness, and yes, weight loss.

Many of us use the excuse, “I’m just a bad sleeper.” But like MOST other things in life, there are things we can do and habits we can practice to improve our sleep and to set us up for the best chance at success.

First: go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Our bodies THRIVE on routine in every possible way, and sleep is no different. Training yourself to close your eyes at the same time every night, and to set your alarm for the same time every morning is one of the best things you can do to help your sleep. That natural rhythm will make falling asleep easier and getting up in the morning less painful. And yes, that includes the weekends. Obviously, there will be times when social events and travel make this impossible, but just like with your macros, be selective about what you allow to throw off your sleep schedule. Binging ‘The Office’ for the fifth time is not a good enough reason on a Saturday night to not go to bed.

Second: watch your caffeine intake and timing. Try to be done with your caffeine by noon. If you do an afternoon cup of coffee, consider decaf and no later than 2pm. Many of us die hard coffee drinkers will tell people that caffeine doesn’t affect our sleep. And for some that may be true. But if you ever struggle with sleep and you drink caffeine in the afternoon, consider if it’s worth it. I always encourage clients to try it for a few weeks. If it makes no difference, great! At least you know. But six hours after consuming caffeine, HALF the amount is still in our system, and some can last up to ten hours. That is squarely when you should be asleep, not still being chemically stimulated. Read more about this topic HERE.

The importance of sleep and fat loss.

Third: Have a bedtime routine. It is not just to make parents want to pull their hair out that we have bedtime routines for small children. The dance of bathing, brushing teeth, reading, singing, and cuddling is practiced because it WORKS. Having a routine that is the same every night, night after night, trains our bodies to be ready to sleep and sleep our best. So make a routine, WRITE IT DOWN, and follow it. And assign times so you stick to it. For example, if I want my bedtime to be 10pm, my nightly bedtime routine may look like this:

  • 9pm: screens off (see below)
  • 9-9:10: evening snack
  • 9:10-9:25 quick downstairs last minute clean up, check on kids, lay out morning workout
  • 9:25-9:35 wash face, skin care, brush teeth
  • 9:35-9:55 read in bed (physical book)
  • 9:55 lights out

Fourth: No screens for ONE HOUR before bed. We live in a digital age and it is no secret that electronic screens are disturbing our natural rhythms. Whether you want to or not, the research backs up that turning off our devices one hour before bed helps us sleep. No more scrolling Instagram lying in bed. Turn off the screens, chat with your partner, read a book, journal etc.

Fifth:  Exercise helps you fall asleep quicker and improves the quality of your sleep and it doesn’t take a long time to see the benefits! One 30 min exercise session can cause you to see a difference THAT NIGHT. In fact, research is showing that the effects of exercise on our sleep is similar to that of sleeping pills. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime as immediately after exercise we tend to be energized.

Sixth: set up your space to be one that you find calming and peaceful. I love my bed so much, I call it my office and often tell my family I’m going to my office and just lie in it! Invest in adult sheets and pillows. Have soft lighting and lightbulbs. Pick up and eliminate clutter. Keep a notebook by your bed for those late night and middle of the night anxious thoughts. A white noise machine or fan is irreplaceable. If you have a partner that snores, have a conversation about talking to a doctor or trying some nasal strips.

Sleep may not always come easily but set yourself up to have the best possible results. Don’t just hope for it to happen or settle for what it currently is!

Read more about sleep and how it impact fat loss HERE.

Stay Fit Mom explains the affects of sleep on fat loss.

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