If you’re not getting enough shuteye, there’s a good chance that everything in your life seems wrong. We don’t realize the importance of a good night’s sleep until it’s gone. So if you’re suddenly spending sleepless nights, you may have a lot on your mind. One of those things could be weight gain or trouble losing weight. As if the dark circles under your eyes aren’t enough, lack of sleep can cause you to gain weight.
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that dieters who didn’t get enough sleep were hungrier and didn’t feel as satisfied after meals as dieters who got more than 7 hours of sleep each night.
And it only gets worse over time. Research out of the University of Chicago found that people who don’t sleep well for four days in a row may experience a 30 percent drop in insulin sensitivity. This means that the people who couldn’t sleep weren’t equipped to release fatty acids and lipids, and experienced higher blood sugar levels as a result.
When you don’t sleep well, cortisol levels are also likely to be higher than normal. Higher cortisol levels can cause you to feel hungrier and interfere with the body’s breakdown of fat.
There are many reasons why sleeplessness is associated with weight gain, so you may want to think twice about burning the candle at both ends.
Here are a few tips for getting a better night’s rest (and helping your diet along):
- Set a bedtime
You probably haven’t had a bedtime since you were a child, but now that you’re an adult, you may even need it now more than ever. To ensure you’re getting enough sleep, count backwards from the time you have to get up for work. Try for 8 hours if at all possible. Not everyone needs this much sleep, and some people need more, but this is a good start. You can adjust as you go.
- Unwind before bed
Now that you have your bedtime, count back another hour. This is time for you to shut down all devices and unwind before bed. Maybe you read a relaxing book or take a bath. But do try to avoid a nightcap because this will interfere with your ability to get a restful sleep.
- Consider white noise
If noise is the reason you’re not getting shut-eye, consider investing in a good white noise machine. The machine won’t eliminate the other noise in the room, but it can counter its effects. White noise essentially raises the base noise level in a room. There’s always some level of noise, whether it’s the hum of a refrigerator or the gentle buzz of the streetlights outside. These noises are at a low level, so they don’t bother us. But they do help to buffer other noises that can otherwise be startling.
- Designate your room for sleep
Many people have the bad habit of watching television in their bedrooms. But if you want to train your body to sleep when it’s time, it’s best to reserve your bed for snoozing. Otherwise, you may spend some time thinking about the show you want to watch instead of drifting off to sleep.
When most people talk about dieting, they don’t even mention sleep. But sleep could be the very reason you’re not shedding pounds on that diet. When you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re already starting at a disadvantage. So all that struggling and kale eating almost ends up being a waste.
Before you start your next big diet, try fixing your sleep habits to see if you can shed some pounds that way first.