Sleep is absolutely essential for our overall health, including our mood, energy, and productivity. Without quality sleep, we can feel irritable, groggy, and anxious, all of which can contribute to a lowered mental state. Additionally, our immune system may become compromised, as sleep plays an important role in our body’s ability to recover.
Importance of sleep for weight loss
Sleep deprivation can negatively affect our hormone levels, too. When we aren’t getting adequate sleep, the level of our hunger hormone (ghrelin) rises. Simultaneously, the level of our appetite-regulating hormone (leptin) falls, which alters our perception of fullness. On top of this, sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the production of cortisol, our stress hormone, causing us to crave ultra-processed carbohydrates and refined sugar.
Without quality sleep each night, it can become extremely difficult to manage a healthy eating routine and achieve weight loss. By practicing good sleep hygiene habits we can ensure that we’ll get the most out of each day by allowing our body to adequately rest and recover.
Create a nightly routine
With many of us now working from home, it can be tough to differentiate between an information-loaded, busy workspace to a relaxed home environment that promotes quality sleep. One of the most beneficial ways in which we can improve sleep hygiene is by creating some separation in our work-home environment by establishing a nightly routine.
Dedicating 30 minutes before bed to relaxing activities like reading, journaling, stretching, or meditating can promote feelings of relaxation and calmness. It’s also a good idea to avoid watching TV, using a laptop, or scrolling through your phone, as these digital devices emit blue light. Blue light disrupts the production of our sleep/wake cycle-controlling hormone (melatonin), making it more challenging to fall asleep. We’ve outlined a few tips below to optimize a nightly routine for you to do 30-45 minutes before bedtime.
Top tips for a sleep-optimizing nightly routine:
- Turn off your laptop computer and TV
- Turn off notifications on your phone or place on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode
- Read a non-work related book
- Have a warm shower
- Practice deep breathing or meditation
- Avoid drinking caffeinated and/or alcoholic beverages
- Avoid eating refined sugar and processed foods
Find a sleep schedule that works for you
While we can aim to achieve 7-8 hours of sleep each night, what’s more important is the quality of sleep we’re able to achieve. Deep sleep, also known as REM sleep, is the stage of sleep responsible for memory retention, mood, and learning. It is essential for us to achieve deep sleep in order to feel rested and allow our body to recover so we can stay healthy. Research has found that scheduling a consistent time for sleeping and waking each day makes us more likely to fall asleep quickly and achieve higher-quality sleep. Additionally, a regular bedtime is key for promoting proper circadian function in the brain for memory.
Various supplements can aid in enhancing sleep; however, it’s always best to consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian prior to adding sleep supplements to your diet. Research has found that supplementing with magnesium not only helps regulate stress hormone response, but also promotes muscle relaxation. Additional vitamins for optimizing quality sleep include vitamin C, vitamin D, and B-complex, as well as minerals like iron and calcium. Incorporating plenty of non-processed, whole foods into your diet is important for gaining these nutrients so you can achieve your most restful sleep.