Hey D.C., you’re getting sleepy, sleepy. Well for most of us it’s not getting, it’s more like you are sleepy! So many of us are so busy with work, so busy with home and of course SO busy with that endless social calendar (which naturally comes with being as fabulous), that we forfeit the most important thing for our health — sleep.
Though we all know that we should be getting more shut eye, studies have shown that getting less than seven-and-a-half hours of sleep a night can affect the waistline.
Sleep affects much of the hormone production in our bodies, but specifically two hormones, ghrelin and leptin, which are linked to weight gain. Think of ghrelin and leptin as our food traffic light hormones. Ghrelin is the green light or “go” hormone that tells us it’s time to eat, drink and be merry.
I believe many of you are familiar with him. Leptin on the other hand is our red light, or “stop” hormone, that lets us know that we are actually full and don’t need to finish the entire bag of potato chips.
If only that Ms. Leptin would come around more often. Sigh. So what’s this have to do with your sleep time? Recent studies out of the University of California-Berkeley are showing that sleep deprivation actually increases the ghrelin and decreases the leptin in your body, sending you into an overeating frenzy throughout the day until you get back on a normal sleep schedule. As if this wasn’t bad enough, studies out of the University of Colorado also showed that lack of sleep affects our brain activity, specifically on what foods we crave, and our ability to evaluate the consequences of eating them.
Sleep-deprived people choose fatty, high-calorie, junk foods over healthy foods. So that party at the club on a work night might sound great, but it comes at a price that your skinny jeans can’t handle. So what’s a girl to do? I’ve got a few tips on how you can reboot your body and get back on the sleep train.
First, cut off the caffeine. A cup of joe may get you going in the morning, but that afternoon cup could be keeping you up at night. Even the small cup of coffee at 3 p.m. can affect your sleep quality around 10 p.m. and cause you to have a restless night. My suggestion is after lunch time switch to decaf or my favorite, green tea. Green tea packs in a bunch of antioxidants without such a caffeine boost. If you feel like you still need a little boost, go for black tea. It’ll get you through the latter part of work but will most likely wear off better than coffee. Also make sure you know the caffeine levels in your coffee. All coffee is not made equally so know if you are drinking the super turned up cup or a regular cup. Your super shot may actually be the equivalent of three cups of coffee.
Second, eat small, nutritious, meals. What you eat affects your sleep big time. Bigger meals are harder to process affecting the quality of your sleep. I know we all are queens, but follow this mantra: eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a peasant to keep your body on track when it comes to sleeping. Also what we eat matters just as much as how much we eat. Simple carbohydrates like bread, rice and white potatoes and sugary meals like ice cream, cakes and alcohol spike your blood sugar at night making it harder to get to bed. So as much as we love that little dessert treat after dinner or that nightcap after a long day at work, it’s better for you to eat your sugary snacks in the morning. Nutrient-dense foods like green leafy veggies and organic meats have natural antioxidants that help reset your body into its natural sleep pattern.
Finally, you better work — OUT. Maintaining daily workouts help to regulate hormone production and give you quality sleep. Shoot for at least 30 minutes of intense exercise per day. The best time to train varies person to person and really is whenever you can do it consistently, but be careful of working out right before bed. Exercise actually has an energizing effect and working out within two hours of your bed time may actually keep you awake even longer. Workout high gone wrong.
Getting seven-eight hours of quality sleep is very important to maintaining a healthy weight. Try to hit the sheets earlier to help avoid some of those junk food cravings throughout the day. Overall, pay more attention to your sleep and more people will start paying attention to you.