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Sleeping Well and Success On The Plan

Learning and Development Specialist Natalie Papini discusses the importance of sleep and how it impacts your efforts to lose weight.

Learning and Development Specialist Natalie Papini discusses the importance of sleep and how it impacts your efforts to lose weight.

If I asked you what behaviors are most important to weight loss and weight management, it is likely that diet and exercise would immediately come to mind. While choosing nutritious foods and increasing physical activity are vital components of achieving and maintaining optimal health, there is another behavior we have been “sleeping on” for quite some time.

It is increasingly difficult to discuss long-term weight management without also discussing sleep habits and patterns. Roughly one in every four U.S. adults report inadequate sleep or rest at least 15 out of every 30 days. Insufficient sleep has been linked to hormonal changes that impact your appetite and how full you feel, which can lead to impulsive, unhealthy food choices.

Here are five sleep health strategies to help you start “REM-ing it up” in no time:

Set the Stage
There is a good chance you’re reading this blog on some sort of screen (computer or mobile device). The light from your screen suppresses melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. As a result, you may encounter difficulty falling and staying asleep.

STRATEGY: Try making the 30-45 minutes leading up to bed time screen free. Doing so could make it easier to fall asleep and will keep you slumbering longer.

Consistent Activity
Despite what you may have heard, the time of day you exercise does not matter as much as consistency with an activity routine. People who work out regularly sleep better and for longer periods of time than those who don’t. While you sleep, your body is hard at work releasing hormones that rebuild and revitalize muscles and joints. More hours snoozing equals more hours for your body to repair itself!

STRATEGY: Talk with your Profile coach about ways you can incorporate or increase your activity.

Less mg’s= More zzz’s
Caffeine can be a sleep killer. It should be no surprise that something that wakes you up can make it more difficult to go to sleep. For most people, caffeine wears off in about five or six hours.

STRATEGY: Depending on when you fall asleep, count backwards five to six hours from your bedtime and cut out caffeine at that time. Not sure you can avoid that 4 P.M. pick me up? Consider a cup of half-caf to reduce the amount of caffeine you’re consuming.

Nap Wisely
Contrary to popular belief, a long nap does not make up for poor nighttime sleep. Napping is fine as long as the nap does not exceed 30-45 minutes. After that, you’re treading into “deep sleep” territory and will likely wake up feeling groggy and more tired than when your nap began.

STRATEGY: To avoid negatively influencing night time sleep, it is good for naps to happen sometime before mid-afternoon.

Get in the Zone
Establishing some type of routine or ritual before bed time can help prepare you for a full night’s rest. Some routines that promote sleepiness include:

  • A hot bath or shower
  • Read (the old-fashioned way: no screens, please)
  • Gentle stretching
  • Journaling
  • Drink a hot cup of decaf tea
  • Meditation

STRATEGY: Take a few minutes to write down your current weekday and weekend sleep routine. Begin with one item on that list that you would like to change and brainstorm a replacement activity that you think could better prepare you for sleep and you would be willing to try. Talk with your Profile coach about what you believe would be a realistic change or low hanging fruit based on your current routine.

Getting adequate shut-eye improves cognitive function, increases your ability to cope with stress and helps you better manage your weight. If bad habits have prevented you from getting a good night’s sleep, it’s time to wake up!