By Janis Hauser, Weight Loss Coach for Personal Trainer Food
Sleep. Everyone needs more of it.
Fat. Everyone wants less of it.
It turns out that what you eat strongly influences how you sleep…and how you sleep affects your waistline.
Did you know that getting less than seven hours of sleep per night is a risk factor for obesity?
Here are four easy bio-hacks that will help you get more sleep AND lose weight at the same time.
#1 TOO SWEET TO SLEEP
Foods high in sugar, especially when eaten before bed, set up a cascade of hormones that will keep you up at night. In turn, sleeplessness can make you insulin-resistant, sending blood sugar levels even higher, creating a cycle that leads to excess fat and obesity.
Skipping the late-hour sugar rush from dessert is a quick fix to deepen your sleep.
For more consistent deep sleep, focus on eating meats, eggs, nuts, and non-starchy vegetables throughout the day. These foods will reduce your overall sugar intake so your body can rest better at night. Less dietary sugar will also trim your waistline.
Want to take it a step further? Try an overnight fast in which you keep 12-14 hours between your last meal and your first meal the following day. This will help you sleep better as your body draws on the long-lasting and stable energy from your fat stores. An overnight fast will have you waking up more refreshed –and you will lose weight faster too.
#2 BLUE LIGHT = UP ALL NIGHT
Blue light is found in morning light from the sun. It’s the kind of light you want to start your day with because it suppresses melatonin, making you feel more alert.
But blue light at night is a huge sleep disruptor. We are engulfed in blue light throughout the day, at the office and at home, especially with light from the TV, energy-efficient lights, and your cellphone or iPad.
Exposure to blue light doesn’t stop at messing up your circadian rhythm. It is also linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. The connection to obesity? It turns out that blue light suppresses leptin, a hormone that makes you feel fuller longer. A lack of leptin is a trigger for over-eating and weight gain.
Reduce your exposure by shutting down electronics in the evening. Resist the urge to check your cell phone one more time before turning off the lights. Just glancing at it is enough to set back your sleep cycle by 30 minutes.
#3 SUNLIGHT TO BOOST ZZZ’S AND BURN FAT
As we mentioned above, blue light from bright morning light is a signal to your body to start its day. Furthermore, exposure to sunlight on your skin between 8:00 am and noon boosts your mood and your level of alertness during the day while helping you rest better at night.
Getting in sync with the sun can also lower your body fat. People who get 20 to 30 minutes a day of bright morning light have lower BMIs than people who do not.
Set your circadian clock as soon as your alarm goes off. Get out of the dark and into daylight as quickly as possible. Even if it is a minute or two spent viewing the dawn light through your window, you will feel yourself wake up faster. No time for that? Ditch wearing your sunglasses on your way into work so you can soak in the light.
A good strategy to synchronize your body with your watch is to take a 20-minute outdoor walk in the morning. It will physically and mentally wake you up while giving you some exposure to the early morning sun. The exercise will have you burning fat and sleeping sounder as well.
#4 ARE YOU A MONDAY MORNING ZOMBIE?
Monday mornings not your thing? While you might not have set foot on a plane over the weekend, the deep level of exhaustion at the start of the week is because you are jet-lagged.
How does that happen?
Most of us shift our Monday to Friday work schedule by 2-3 hours when the weekend hits. We stay up later and sleep in longer. To your body, this shift is like flying through a few time zones.
It doesn’t matter if you manage to get more sleep over the weekend, misaligning your time-zone every few days is hard on your body.
Social jet lag is linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The cure? Keep your weekend social life to the same hours as your work-life. It turns out Mom was right. Having a set time to go to bed and wake up is important to your health!
If you are determined to keep up with your demanding social life, following the other three hacks listed above will help you stay on top of your Monday game.
When it comes to sleep or your waistline, every little positive change counts. So whether you adopt one or all of the strategies above, it will add up to improved health over the long run – like pennies in a piggy bank.