It’s National Sleep Awareness Week! I know — pretty exciting stuff. Sarcasm aside, getting enough sleep is basic to good health and healthy weights. It’s estimated that one-third of people in the US suffer from chronic sleep loss. With so many of us also struggling with healthy weight loss, it makes sense to pay attention to this problem.
The link between adequate sleep and healthy weights has to do with hormones. According to the National Sleep Foundation, if we don’t get enough sleep, it may affect our levels of the hormone leptin, which regulates carbohydrate metabolism. Low levels of leptin can cause carbohydrate cravings, “…regardless of the amount of calories consumed.”
The Sleep Foundation also points out that adequate sleep may also be part of a type 2 diabetes program. It cites a small study on 11 healthy young adults that showed after several nights of only four hours a night of sleep, “their ability to process blood glucose had declined, in some cases to a pre-diabetic state, prompting their bodies to produce more insulin.”
And that’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to negative effects of not enough sleep. Here are a few tips from the National Sleep Foundation to help you get your zzzzz’s.
Establish a regular bedtime routine and a regular sleep-wake schedule. That means getting up at the same time every day of the week, no matter how much you’ve slept the night before, and going to bed at about the same time.
Don’t spend too much time in bed. Your time in bed should be about the same as the amount of time you can actually sleep during the night. You can’t force yourself to sleep by spending more time in bed.
Do not eat or drink too much before bedtime.
Create a sleep-promoting environment that is quiet, dark, cool and comfortable.
During the day:
Consume less or no caffeine, particularly late in the day.
Avoid alcohol and nicotine, especially close to bedtime.
Exercise, but not within three hours before bedtime.
Avoid naps, particularly in the late afternoon or evening.
Establish a regular bedtime and get up at the same time every day. Do not stay in bed to make- up for lost sleep or beyond your regular rise time.
Keep a sleep diary to identify your sleep habits and patterns that you can share with your doctor.