Friday, February 27, 2009

Cheery Up Sleepy Jean...

Sleep. One of my favorite topics. One of my favorite things to do in fact. I love a good nights sleep, and I become somewhat dysfunctional when I'm super tired. Can any of you relate? What if I told you that getting a good nights sleep could help you maintain a healthy weight, or even lose excess weight? Too good to be true?

It is the very concept that doctors are have been questioning for several years. Is there a connection between sleep and weight loss? Studies have shown the answer is Yes. Those who get fewer hours of sleep per night have higher BMI's.

During your sleeping hours is when your body rests and regenerates itself. The muscles of the body are relaxed while you're sleeping, allowing the tissue to repair and rebuild itself. This is key for those who are involved in exercise, and especially those who lift weights. Not allowing your body time to recuperate can lead to fatigue, injury, and other potential problems. Be good to your body. If you expect it to work for you, you need to give it adequate rest.

Research shows that fatigue leads to overeating. This is a result of the change in hormone levels as your body becomes tired, leading you to crave food and not feel full. Hence...midnight snacking, late afternoon snacking...etc. These snacks tend to be high calorie sweets and starchy foods which when frequently over consumed can lead to weight gain.

So, how much sleep should we be getting? 7-9 hours is what is recommended. Allow yourself to develop a pattern. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Use your bed solely for sleeping. Don't read or study on it. Give your body time to wind down before you go to bed. Don't eat or drink anything right before bed time. Take a warm bath or shower to let your body relax. Get in a routine of waking up consistently in the morning. Avoid pushing snooze when your alarm goes off. Although those extra nine minutes may seem worth it at the time, your body won't go back into a deep sleep cycle, and it actually won't give you any rest. It may, in fact, make you feel more tired throughout the rest of the day.

When you get enough sleep you'll have the energy to get in a good work out which will leave you more energized throughout the day, and it has been proven that exercising also helps you to sleep better. (Crazy chain of events eh?) So...get some shut eye! Make it a priority. Make it a habit. It will be worth it to you and your body!

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