The connection between healthy weight loss and regular sleeping habits is not usually the first thing a person considers as being necessary for dieting success, but the two are directly linked. Sleep plays an important role in overall health and provides many benefits for people who are trying to lose weight and keep it off. A healthy sleep cycle is directly related to appetite and the body’s chemistry throughout the day. By considering some easy to implement suggestions and acknowledging existing bad habits, individuals become better prepared to successfully attain and maintain their weight loss goals.
Understanding the benefits of healthy sleeping habits is a good place to begin. A healthy sleep cycle is divided into two distinct classifications: NREM and REM. NREM or non-rapid eye movement dominates the night and is separated by repeating periods of REM or rapid eye movement sleep. The four stages of NREM sleep are responsible for the regulation of heart rate and breathing both of which provide restorative benefits to the body. During NREM sleep blood supply to muscles is increased and muscles become more relaxed promoting tissue repair and growth. Additionally, energy is being restored to the body and growth hormones are being released promoting increased muscle development.
REM sleep increases these benefits by providing additional energy to the brain and body as well as replenishing hormone levels such as cortisol, leptin, and ghrelin that are depleted throughout the day. Cortisol, at natural levels, promotes alertness and is active in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates within the body. Leptin and ghrelin are responsible for appetite sensations relating to hunger and feeling full. The combination of the effects of REM and NREM sleep promote overall general health that can aid in the process of weight loss. The disruption of this process leads to complications during the day that make weight loss more difficult and can actually contribute to weight gain.
Sleeping habits can be improved to facilitate the benefits of sleep that play an important factor in weight loss. A regular sleep schedule combined with a ritualistic evening routine communicates to the body that rest is near. The evening routine should include a comfortable environment without the distractions contained in other rooms in a home. The bedroom should be set aside for sleep and not used as a home office or infiltrated with video games, computers, and televisions that often keep people occupied and awake far later into the night than intended.
Eliminating the tendency to enjoy a late night snack or caffeine infused beverage before bedtime will also promote a healthy night’s sleep. A good practice is to avoid eating or drinking anything that disrupts a person’s ability to fall asleep for at least 2 or 3 hours prior to bedtime. This timeframe should also include exercising. Exercise is an important aspect to a healthy lifestyle, but it can be counter-productive when exercise takes place too near bedtime. Late night exercise awakens the body and makes sleep difficult to achieve.
The sleeping habits for adults tend to change overtime even though the need for sleep remains the same. This change is typically related to the change in lifestyle that people experience as they age, and this can affect weight loss too. As people age, their behaviors make falling asleep more difficult. Whether this change results from career responsibilities, family situations, or educational pursuits, a consistent sleep pattern is necessary for maintaining a healthy body.
Sleeping habits for young adults are most affected by disruptions that occur over the weekends or while raising children. While the latter seems unavoidable, weekend disruptions and other late night activities make it difficult for the body to react effectively to an inconsistent schedule. The more stable a person’s lifestyle can be, the greater benefit that person will receive during a good night’s sleep.
At the other end of the spectrum, sleeping habits for older adults are typically put off by the lack of early morning responsibilities. Without the early morning obligations, older adults tend to stay up later than they otherwise would and this leads to periods of drowsiness during the day. A mid-day nap will likely follow a short night’s sleep, so now the next evening’s rest is disrupted as well.
The relationship between weight loss and sleep is unavoidable. Healthy sleeping habits promote the physical and chemical processes that are necessary for general health as well as weight loss. During sleep, hormones controlling appetite and metabolism are being balanced while energy levels are being restored to healthy levels. The most effective way to maintain a healthy lifestyle is to maintain a consistent sleep cycle. The bi-product of this behavior is that people will become less dependent upon excessive consumption for energy and more able to handle the day feeling alert and full of energy.