2019 is here and countless Americans have resolved to lose weight in the new year. But where to start? Many will adopt fad diets and others will invest in little-used gym memberships or fitness equipment. If you really want to lose weight in 2019, though, your best bet may to reevaluate your relationship with sleep.
Sleep and appetite are closely connected, and failure to get enough sleep can increase your appetite and also make it harder to lose weight. In particular, when you don’t get enough sleep, or only get low-quality sleep, the body’s levels of leptin and ghrelin, hormones that modulate appetite and the sensation of fullness, can become imbalanced. That, in turn, makes it harder to lose weight.
By addressing these three barriers to a good night’s sleep, you can restore balance in your body and kick your metabolism into gear. You may even find your cravings disappear and energy levels increase – all perfect conditions for losing weight.
Create A Routine
If you’re a parent, you probably keep your children to a fairly strict bedtime routine, especially early in life. Maybe you give them a bath, read two stories, and then it’s bedtime. But kids aren’t the only ones who benefit from a sleep routine – adults do better with a little bit of ritual, too. Do your best to go to bed at the same time each night, put your screens away a few hours before bedtime, and find ways to unwind like meditating or taking a shower.
Putting away your phone and computer are especially important parts of any bedtime routine because the blue light from devices suppresses melatonin production. Melatonin regulates sleep-wake cycles, and you may benefit from the short-term use of a melatonin supplement while you try to get your sleep habits on track.
Set Up Your Space
Another factor that plays a significant role in how well you sleep, and how likely you are to succeed at losing weight, is the lighting and temperature of the room where you sleep. Many adults prefer to leave their blinds open at night, especially if they live on an upper floor where they have some privacy, so that sun comes in each morning and helps them wake up. Unfortunately, overnight light can interrupt your sleep, as does outside noise. If you want to sleep better, it’s time to make some adjustments.
One change that’s particularly effective in improving sleep quality is hanging heavy curtains to block out light and sound to block out light and sound. These curtains can also help control the temperature of your space, insulating it and helping maintain a cooler temperature in your room for better sleep.
Check Your Breathing
Sometimes sleep is part of a broader catch-22, which is to say that the steps that will help you lose weight are impeded by your weight. This is precisely the situation that people with sleep apnea face.
Obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that causes the airway to collapse during the night, can be caused or worsened by excess weight, but it can also interfere with your ability to sleep, causing patients to wake dozens of time throughout the night, though you may not remember it happening.
Knowing this, it becomes obvious that if you want to lose weight this year, it’s important to treat your sleep apnea. For many patients, that means using a CPAP or BiPAP machine to maintain an airway during the night.
Though the first few nights can be an adjustment, once you get used to the mask, you’ll sleep more deeply and feel more energized during the day. Your hunger hormones will also be better regulated, and you’re less likely to experience cravings.
It’s strange to think that a sedentary activity like sleeping could help you lose weight, but it’s actually vital to the process. So put on your pajamas and say goodnight. Your new diet starts with better sleep hygiene.