You are here

Tips to Sleep Better (And Control Your Weight, Too)

November 6, 2012

It’s no news that sleep is crucial to your physical and mental health. Being well rested not only empowers you to concentrate and boosts your mood; it also strengthens your immune system and fights chronic inflammation.

Another benefit to add to the list? Maintaining a healthy weight. According to new research, being sleep deprived can cause you to eat 300 extra calories a day.

It all has to do with the delicate balance of hormones in the body. Men and women who slept less than four hours a night several nights in a row experienced hormone disruption in ways that dramatically affected their metabolism and appetites. Sleep-deprived men had more ghrelin in their blood, a hormone that stimulates hunger, and tired women had less GLP-1, a hormone that suppresses hunger.

The impacts were significant: the participants ate 300 calories more when sleep deprived than they did after a full night’s rest. It’s unclear exactly how these biological mechanisms work, but it seems that our bodies are designed to crave food differently when we’re exhausted.

So how can you make sure you’re getting the 7-9 recommended hours of sleep every night?

Unplug a few hours before bedtime
The glow from your computer, iPhone, or even TV can stop your body from producing melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy. Unplug and unwind with a book or music instead, and make sure your bedroom is totally dark once the lights are off.

Get exercise – but not too late
Staying physically active
is not only essential for your health; it also ensures that you’re ready for a good night’s rest at the end of the day. But some people find that exercising too close to bedtime can leave them feeling jazzed up and unable to nod off, so try to exercise earlier in the day if possible.

Create a comfy, peaceful space to sleep
Make your bed a place you can’t wait to crawl into every night. Invest in a high-quality mattress if possible, experiment with pillows, use soft sheets, and make sure you’re not too hot or cold. Be sure to never work, talk on the phone, or watch TV in bed, so your mind associates bed with rest and relaxation.

Ease up on the water
Staying well hydrated is important, but frequent bathroom trips throughout the night can be very disruptive to your sleep. Joshua Rosenthal, IIN Founder and Primary Teacher, recommends drinking lots of water in the morning and early afternoon, and easing up by evening-time so that one can sleep uninterrupted.

What are your tips for getting a good night’s sleep?