It’s rare if I can’t sleep.
Don’t be a hater but I can fall asleep fast (ask my husband – as soon as my head hits the pillow I am usually out). I have always been able to sleep. I can remember being in rehearsals (when I was with the ballet company) I would just curl into a ball on the side of the studio and take little cat naps. Then jump up when I was needed to rehearse. I can’t read a book or sit still for more than 20 minutes without wanting to fall asleep (maybe I am narcoleptic?). Anyways…my secret…I think I just know how to relax my body so I can sleep.
I have a routine I follow every night before I go to bed and most of consists of keeping the lights dim or my eyes half shut while I am heading for bed (hey don’t knock it, it works). So I am pretty much half asleep by the time I get to my bed.
Why do we need to sleep?
Lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain. When we don’t get enough sleep our cortisol levels increase (Cortisol is your stress hormone). High cortisol levels can lead to increased cravings for comfort foods (the pastas, doughnuts…high fat, high carb content foods). Conversely, sleep deprivation can decrease leptin levels (Leptin is the hormone that controls hunger) and increase ghrelin (this hormone increases your appetite).
So when you don’t get enough sleep leptin levels drop which means you won’t feel as satisfied after you eat. Without adequate sleep, ghrelin will rise and your appetite will increase and you will want to eat more food. You can see how getting a good 7-9 hours of sleep each night will boost your chances of weight loss success.
Here are some nighttime tips so you’ll never have to utter the word “I can’t sleep” again.
I know not everyone falls asleep so easily so I thought I’d share some other tips to help you get your zzz’s:
- Limit your caffeine. I know I can’t have coffee after 4pm unless I want to stay up til midnight.
- Limit your alcohol. Avoid excessive consumption before bedtime (if you are trying to get a lean body alcohol should not be in your “diet”).
- Quit smoking already! Nicotine is a stimulant…need I give you more reasons to quit because I am sure you know them already.
- Limit television viewing before bed. This one doesn’t seem to bother me unless it’s a thriller type show.
- Lower the thermostat. The body sleeps better in cooler temperatures.
- Take a hot bath 1-2 hours before bed. If you have kids, take the bath whenever you can!
- Do NOT work in your bed. Consider your bed your private oasis for sleeping, reading and other “extra curricular activities” but not work.
- If you need to nap, do so earlier in the day (if you even need to take one).
- Avoid having a large meal right before bed. I know I don’t like to go to bed starving or wake up hungry in the night, so have a light meal if you need it. Don’t believe that you have to stop eating at 6pm to lose weight. Typically, I will eat at 9:00 or 9:30PM and then go to bed at 10PM without any problems losing weight.
- Block out additional light and noise. If you aren’t a sound sleeper earplugs or a sleep mask (covers your eyes) will help you get a good night’s sleep.
- After lying down, if you find you are still awake 30 minutes later, get up and do something like read a book, write or even yoga/meditate.
- Use blackout curtains or shades to block light.
- Invest in a good pillow and a comfy mattress.
- Try this one out-> while laying down in bed, tense up your feet, hold it then release. Then do your feet and legs (contract, hold and release). Then do your feet, legs and hips. Keep adding body parts as you continue up the body. (Don’t forget to scrunch up your face :-). When you get to tensing your whole body and releasing you should feel very relaxed. [Side note: DO NOT hold your breath at any point of this relaxation technique.]
- This is another technique I use to get to sleep: While lying down with my eyes closed, I think of blackness. Like an incredibly dark room where you can’t see your hand in front of your face. I just focus on the darkness. This technique helps me not think about other things. It might take a couple of tries so don’t dismiss this one right away if it doesn’t work for you the first time.
- Have a reliable alarm. You will never get a good night’s sleep if you are anxious that your alarm will not wake you.
- Prepare all your things you need for the morning the night before.
- Leave a note pad on your nightstand that way if you do think of something you need to do you can write it down and forget about it until morning.
- Get a great workout in! When you do intense workouts you can’t wait to go to sleep. If you are just starting out, build up the intensity slowly over time.
Create A Habit
Create a nighttime ritual that works for you. Could be listing to soothing music, writing in a journal…whatever it is you decide to do keep it in the same order so your body knows the signals that it’s time for sleep. It’s kinda like when you have kids. Typically, they have the same bedtime routine so they know that sleep time is coming.
There are medications you can take to help you sleep but I highly recommend trying the above suggestions and leaving the medicines as a last resort.
So I hope you will be able to get some zzz’s using some of the tips above. Maybe you have some you would like to share? You can share them below in the comment box.