Sleep: everyone wants more. Fat: everyone wants less. Wouldn’t it be great if you could lose weight while you catch up on some sleep?
It turns out you can!
Scientists are learning that anything less than seven hours of sleep puts you at risk of gaining weight.
We won’t judge, but chances are you are probably only getting about 6.8 hours of sleep a night, aren’t you? Don’t feel bad. It looks like everyone is running low on sleep these days. We have all lost more than an hour of sleep from what we used to get in 1942.
Aiming for at least seven hours is a great goal. But even if you really can’t get a full seven hours of rest, a few simple changes can make a big difference…
#1 Too Sweet to Sleep
Many people report being able to sleep better after switching to a healthier diet. There’s good reason for that. Foods high in sugar, especially when eaten before bed, set up a cascade of hormones that will keep you up at night.
In turn, sleeplessness can make you insulin-resistant, sending blood sugar levels ever higher, creating a cycle that leads to excess fat and obesity.
Eating our foods and following our guidelines will reduce your overall sugar intake so your body can rest better at night. Less dietary sugar will trim your waistline naturally.
Want to take your fat loss a step further?
Try an overnight fast in which you keep 12-14 hours between your last meal and your first meal the following day. Closing the kitchen early will help you lose more weight than if you ate the same meal later in the evening.
You will sleep better as your body gears down to draw on the long-lasting and stable energy from your fat stores.
Combined with healthy foods, an overnight fast also works like a mini-detox.
You will wake up feeling more refreshed –and you will lose weight faster too.
#2 Blue Light = Up All Night
Blue light is found in morning light from the sun. It’s the kind of light you want to start your day with because it suppresses melatonin, making you feel more alert. It’s like getting a hit of caffeine from the sun.
But like coffee, blue light at night is a huge sleep disruptor. We are engulfed in blue light throughout the day and well into the evening, at the office and at home, especially with light from the TV, energy-efficient lights, and your cellphone or iPad.
Exposure to blue light doesn’t stop at messing up your circadian rhythm. It is also linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
What’s the connection to obesity?
It turns out that blue light suppresses leptin, a hormone that makes you feel fuller longer. A lack of leptin is a trigger for over-eating and weight gain.
Reduce your exposure by shutting down electronics in the evening. Resist the urge to check your cell phone one more time before turning off the lights. Just glancing at it is enough to set back your sleep cycle by 30 minutes.
#3 Sunlight to Boost ZZZ’s and Burn Fat
As we mentioned above, blue light from bright morning light is a signal to your body to start its day. Furthermore, exposure to sunlight on your skin between 8:00 am and noon boosts your mood and your level of alertness during the day while helping you rest better at night.
Getting in sync with the sun can also lower your body fat. People who get 20 to 30 minutes a day of bright morning light tend to have lower BMIs than people who do not.
You want to set your circadian clock as soon as your alarm goes off. Get out of the dark and into daylight as quickly as possible. Even if it is a minute or two spent viewing the dawn light through your window, you will feel yourself wake up faster.
No time for that? Ditch wearing your sunglasses on your way into work so you can soak in the light.
A good strategy to synchronize your body with your watch is to take your 20-minute walk outdoors in the morning. It will physically and mentally wake you up while giving you some exposure to the early morning sun.
The exercise will simultaneously help you to burn fat and sleep sound.
#4 Do You HATE Mondays? Here’s Why…
Monday mornings not your thing? While you might not have set foot on a plane over the weekend, the deep level of exhaustion at the start of the week is because you are jet-lagged.
How does that happen?
Most of us shift our Monday to Friday work schedule by 2-3 hours when the weekend hits. We stay up later and sleep in longer. To your body, this shift is like flying through a few time zones.
It doesn’t matter if you manage to get more sleep over the weekend; misaligning your time-zone every few days is hard on your body. Fix it so you can lose weight.
The cure? Keep your weekend social life to the same hours as your work-life. It turns out Mom was right. Having a set time to go to bed and wake up is important to your health!
If you are determined to keep up with your demanding social life, following the other three hacks listed above will help you stay on top of your Monday game.
When it comes to sleep or your waistline, every little positive change counts. So whether you adopt one or all of the strategies above, it will add up to improved health and fat loss over the long run — like pennies in a piggy bank.
Since this article was published, Apple announced that iOS 9.3 will automatically shift your device from blue light in the day to yellow light in the evenings so you can sleep better! Be sure to get the latest update so you can sleep like a baby while you lose weight!
- Overnight fasting can help you lose weight faster.
- Blue light exposure can lead to obesity.
- Early morning sunlight lowers body fat.
- Social jet lag promotes obesity.
Jan is a 14-year veteran in the fitness industry and has personally coached and trained thousands of people to live fit and healthy lives around the world. 100 pounds ago, she knew exactly what it is like to be obese, sick and unhappy, feeling like there was nothing that could be done about the excess fat she had gained. That is why she couldn’t be happier to be a part of the Personal Trainer Food team today. She has successfully and permanently lost the fat using the principles of this program.