In our last blog we talked about how getting good quality sleep is an important part of supporting your weight loss journey. Sleep is crucial to control your hunger cravings, regulate hormones such as ghrelin and control insulin which can lead to diabetes and obesity. With that in mind, here are 5 ways to make sure you get better sleep:
Go to bed at the same time each day
By going to bed at the same time each night, you can train your body to want to sleep at the same time each day. This regulates your circadian rhythm, which is your natural body clock, that regulates various physiological processes such as telling your body when to go to sleep.
In humans, the circadian rhythm is primarily influenced by external cues, the most notable of which is the light-dark cycle. Exposure to light, particularly natural sunlight, helps synchronize and reset our circadian rhythm.
Disruptions to the circadian rhythm, such as shift work, jet lag, or irregular sleep schedules, can lead to various health issues, including sleep disorders, fatigue, impaired cognitive function, and an increased risk of chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, and mood disorders.
Establishing a consistent sleep schedule, ensuring exposure to natural light during the day, and practicing good sleep hygiene are some of the strategies that can help maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.
Start to wind down, 1-2 hours before you sleep
Linked to your circadian rhythm, you can train your body to know that it’s nearer time to sleep. Having a good routine such as dimming the lights, reading, listening to calming music or drinking herbal tea, such as camomile can signal to your body that it’s preparing to sleep. By avoiding anything that can activate the brain too much, such as TV or scrolling on social media, you will begin to feel more calm and relaxed when it comes to turning out the light. If you do this routine regularly at the same time each night your body will learn this pattern, reinforcing with your circadian rhythm to release melatonin that will give you better quality sleep. This increase in melatonin helps promote drowsiness and facilitates the onset of sleep. Throughout the night, melatonin levels remain elevated, supporting the maintenance of good sleep.
Avoid coffee after 3pm in the afternoon
One thing that can affect the release of melatonin is coffee. Consuming coffee or any caffeinated beverage too close to bedtime can affect the release of melatonin and disrupt your sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that blocks the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep and relaxation. By blocking adenosine, caffeine increases alertness and delays the onset of sleep.
Whilst individual sensitivity to caffeine can vary, consuming coffee or other caffeinated drinks within 6 hours of bedtime can interfere with falling asleep and reduce the total amount of sleep obtained.
Caffeine consumption, especially in the evening, can disrupt the normal production and release of melatonin, making it more difficult to fall asleep and maintain restful sleep.
Keep your room at a cool temperature
Sleeping in a cool room can contribute to better sleep for several reasons. Our body temperature naturally drops during sleep as part of the sleep-wake cycle. A cooler room helps this temperature drop, making it easier for the body to reach and maintain a comfortable sleep-inducing temperature. Cooler temperatures in the bedroom can also support the natural release of melatonin.
Studies have also shown that people tend to experience better sleep quality in cooler environments. Cooler temperatures can lead to deeper, more restorative sleep by allowing the body to reach the optimal temperature for sleep.
A cool room can help minimize sleep disturbances caused by excessive sweating, feeling too hot, or discomfort due to high temperatures. When the environment is too warm, it can lead to tossing and turning, night sweats, and disrupted sleep.
It’s important to note that the ideal sleep temperature may vary from person to person, and personal preferences play a role. Generally, a temperature range between 15-19°C is often considered conducive to good sleep. Finding the temperature that suits you best and creating a comfortable sleep environment can significantly enhance your sleep quality.
Stretch for ten minutes before getting into bed
Throughout the day we build up and store tension in different areas of our bodies. By stretching and releasing the muscles before bedtime can help to support better sleep. Stretching releases the tension in the muscles and relaxes the body into a sleep ready state.
By stretching you will reduce and release stress from your body, increase blood flow and improve circulation which supports healing as you sleep, lending to less aches and pains when you wake. If you suffer from leg cramps during sleep, stretching could help reduce the severity and regularity of these. Or if you have headaches often at bedtime, stretching can help to alleviate these. A quick 5-10 minutes of stretching before bed and you will give your body a chance to repair and regenerate more whilst you sleep.
Which of these tips will you add to your sleep routine tonight?