Do you ever find yourself counting sheep or not being able to drift off peacefully at night? You're not alone! Sleep is an integral part of weight care and overall health, yet sometimes it's tough to not only get enough shut-eye but actually fall asleep.
According to research, when we are sleep deprived, our bodies experience several impacts, including weight gain or loss.
Appetite is regulated by two major hormones: ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin sends hunger signals, and leptin sends satiety (fullness) signals. When we don't get enough sleep, more ghrelin is produced than leptin, which can cause hunger spikes. In addition, sleep deprivation can lead to increased fat storage by disruptions in cortisol (the body's main stress hormone) levels. So, we can retain more weight, despite our best efforts to focus on diet and exercise simply because we are not getting enough sleep. However, with a few lifestyle changes and swaps, sleep quality can improve in a short time.
If you're having trouble snoozing, please read on for supportive tools and strategies to prepare for sleep, fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer.
Habits are important when it comes to preparing for sleep! Try to incorporate these tools into your day-to-day to promote a restful night's sleep:
Start at dinner Incorporate sleep-friendly foods at dinner time to enhance your preparation for sleep. Research indicates that certain food choices support rest by igniting sleep-friendly agents, including melatonin, tryptophan, arginine, vitamin D, and magnesium. Enjoy walnuts, almonds, tart cherries, bananas, turkey, salmon, and pumpkin seeds for a sleep-boosting benefit.
Cut caffeine Stop drinking caffeine eight hours before you sleep and have your last beverage four hours before bedtime. Caffeine can disrupt your sleep cycles—you'll be wide awake and a bit jittery!
Block the blue light Do you stare at your phone or computer screen throughout the day? Blue light blocking glasses help to block blue light so it won't impact your rest. Order a pair and try wearing them whenever you're looking at screens for a week. Then, see if you notice a difference in your sleep.
Reschedule your workout Consider switching your exercise routine to the morning. It gets your blood flowing and can wake you up instead of relaxing you. If you enjoy evening workouts, try to make sure you finish your last workout of the day 4 hours before bedtime for the best possible rest.
Try your own at-home hot towel rub or a bath If you happen to have access to a bathtub, relax with a warm bath in Epsom salt and natural lavender oil. If you do not have a bathtub or simply do not enjoy soaking in the tub, try a warm towel rub for a similar calming effect. All you need to do is add warm water and lavender oil to a bowl, soak a clean washcloth in the warm lavender water, and wring the washcloth out to remove excess water. Lightly pat your face and/or arms and legs for relaxation.
The one-hour ritual Try creating an evening routine that takes place one hour before bedtime. Here are a few rituals to try out:
Journal for 10 minutes about what went well during the day, what you're grateful for, and what you hope to achieve tomorrow.
Wash your face and give yourself a face massage with a natural oil, such as jojoba oil—it's antibacterial, hypoallergenic, and moisturizes your skin, hair, and scalp.
Finish with simple stretching, which can help relax tense muscles for ultimate relaxation before bed.
Even if you take all the steps to prepare yourself to fall asleep, sometimes you need additional assistance, especially when your mind is still racing. Here are some of our favorite suggestions to help you fall asleep easier:
Avoid artificial lighting 60 minutes before bedtime This includes your phone! Research has shown that your brain is affected when electronics are around you at night and before bedtime. This includes your phone, TV, electronics, and more. Artificial light from electronic devices can hinder your ability to fall asleep naturally. Try to keep your phone in a different room or across the room so you can sleep.
Embrace White Noise or Ear Plugs Outside sounds can unknowingly keep you from sleeping through the night. To mask them, try a fan, a white noise machine, or even a white-noise app. If you're very sensitive to noise, try earplugs to cancel the noise altogether.
Occasionally, staying asleep can be the most difficult part of the sleep cycle. The amount of sleep you need varies from person to person, but most people need about 7-8 hours a night. Research has indicated that range is ideal for most adults to maintain good health and support immunity. If you're finding challenges staying asleep, the following tips are great to try:
Keep your body cool If you're getting too warm at night, try cooling down with textile tech such as the Chilisleep Cooling Mattress Pad, the Luna Cooling Bamboo Weighted Blanket, Therapedic brrr° sheets, or the Latitude Run Cooling Blanket. Another option is to try light-weight cotton pajamas, which are naturally cooling.
Create a pitch-black environment Even the smallest amount of light can impact your ability to stay asleep. If light bothers you at night, you can install blackout curtains to reduce light entering your room from outside. Another option is to try light-blocking eye masks designed for sleep.
Maintain optimal room temperature throughout the year Temperature plays a big role in our ability to achieve sound rest, according to research. It's up to you for preference, but the Sleep Foundation recommends a range between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius). When it's hot, a fan in the summer or even a small space heater in the winter can be super useful to keep the temperature ideal for rest.
In addition to the strategies and tips listed above, we've compiled a list of additional resources for sleep health.
Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams By Matthew Walker
Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life By Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar
If you consistently have trouble sleeping despite efforts to support rest, please reach out to your primary care physician for comprehensive sleep treatment. Links to products and apps are offered as a courtesy; Found does not have an affiliate program with the recommended retailers.
Updated and revised by Coach Jessica S; originally written by Coach Kristina P.
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