lifestyle tips for better sleep

To lose weight has become the desire of most overweight people as well as those who want to stay fit and healthy. To achieve this objective, they get the best workout programs along with their preferred weight loss diet plan and the right supplements to use. Fully armed and ready to drop those excess pounds you’d say!

However, there is a new twist to the game as recent studies are indicating that a lot of people are simply not aware of one of the very best way of burning fat and which could also be one neglected factor hindering many people from achieving their weight loss goals. There is, according to these studies, the need for anybody attempting to lose weight to seriously start "counting sheep" and not just calories.

Sleep deprivation has been shown to disrupt a series of metabolic and hormonal processes. These changes cause increased hunger and affect the body’s metabolism making it difficult to lose and control healthy body weight. When our bodies don’t get enough sleep, we also become stressed and fatigued consequently affecting our behavior leading to a tendency to engage in emotional or self-conditioned overeating of carbohydrate- and fat-rich foods such as cookies, roasted nuts, chocolates, cakes and potato chips.

During sleep, the body shuts down to rest. This readily brings the concept of Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) or Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) into perspective. Your Resting Metabolic Rate is the rate of energy consumption by your body when it is at rest. Your body’s Resting Metabolic Rate utilizes about 60-80% of your total calorie consumption to carry out it physiological functions such as that of the heart, kidney, and liver as well as for blood circulation, respiration, muscle tone and constant body temperature. Considering this singular impact of your body being in a state and the fat burning that goes on during it, it becomes pretty obvious that you need sleep to lose weight!

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Sleep is actually an active process considering the amount of activities the body carries out during this period of rest including the fact that the endocrine system secretes larger amount of hormones such as the human growth hormone (HGH) during sleep. The body virtually carries out most of its restorative work during your “deep sleep” (NREM – Non-Rapid Eye Movement) stages. Inadequate sleep, or interrupted sleep patterns, can to a large extent hamper these processes.

Tips for Better Sleep

It is not only the duration of your sleep (recommended is 7-8 hours a day) that matters but also the quality which has more to do with your sleep patterns based on your understanding of and consistency with your natural wakefulness.

Here are some tips you can adopt to improve your sleep.

Create a Proper Sleeping Environment

Sleep in a dark room as light inhibits melatonin’s (sleep-inducing hormone) secretion and also ensure that your bedroom temperature is neither too hot nor too cold – ideally around 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Lastly, the National Sleep Foundation recommends keeping televisions and computers out of the bedroom.

Avoid Big Meals

Don’t eat big meals before going to bed because digesting it may task your digestive system and may end up keeping you awake. Also avoid eating refined, processed carbohydrates, and spicy foods too close to your bedtime. Generally try avoiding eating at least 3 hours before your bedtime.

Try Some Tryptophan-Rich Foods

Certain foods contain some reasonable amounts of the sleep-inducing tryptophan noticeably milk as this accounts for its ability to “magically” send us off to dreamland. It is also found in many other foods such as poultry including turkey and eggs, lean meat, honey, oats, and beans.

Carbohydrate-rich foods have interestingly been shown to affect brain serotonin because they increase the amount of tryptophan in the brain – tryptophan being the amino-acid precursor of serotonin. You can consider a small bowl of cereal and milk, bread and cheese, or yogurt and crackers as some good late night snacks to get you snoozing off.

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Maintain a Regular Bedtime Routines

Allow your body to set its internal clock by routinely giving yourself some time to unwind as a way of signaling to your mind and body to get ready to sleep. You can relax by practicing deep breathing or reading a book say 30 minute before your actual bedtime. Make sure to maintain a regular sleep schedule – both bedtime and wake-up time.

Avoid Caffeine, Coffee, Alcohol and other Stimulants

Taking these and other stimulants including nicotine before bedtime can seriously interfere with your sleep cycles. While alcohol may appear to make some people fall asleep faster, it however causes frequent awakenings throughout the night and thus results in having less restful sleep not to talk of the nightmares and accompanying headaches. Generally avoid caffeine and other stimulants after 3pm.

Exercise Regularly

Apart from making you sleep better, exercise also improves strength and muscle tone, reduces stress and puts you in a better mood and thus essentially helps you burn calories. Those who exercise on a regular basis or have very active movements throughout the course of their day burn off more metabolic wastes in their muscles and cells which helps the body to relax more effectively and therefore improving the ability to fall and stay asleep. The timing is also of importance as late afternoon exercise appears to best serve to help individuals easily fall and stay asleep.