Americans spend billions of dollars on weight loss programs and products each year. While no one weight-loss method works for everyone, you might be surprised to learn what you do in the evening plays a role. Whether it's avoiding mindless snacking, making sure you don't go to bed hungry, or getting the rest you need to keep your system in balance, doing certain things before sleep can help you lose weight.
Avoid Emotional Eating
Evening is a difficult time for many dieters. When the work or school day is over and the sun goes down, it's easy to get bored, or, if you've had a bad day, give in to stress and turn to food for enjoyment or comfort. In fact, emotional eating is a major factor in overeating in general, according to Andrea Wenger-Hess, a nutritionist with the University of Maryland Medical Center. Instead of turning to food before you head to bed, enjoy a good book to alleviate boredom or take a hot bath to relieve stress.
Have a Snack
Though you should be careful about nighttime emotional eating, that doesn't mean you shouldn't eat at all before it's time for shut-eye. A healthy, low-calorie snack can aid you weight loss by keeping your metabolism going and preventing you from waking up in the middle of the night wanting a midnight snack. Helpguide recommends a combination of lean protein and complex carbohydrates, such as a bowl of whole grain cereal with low fat milk or fruit and cheese. However, you'll want to avoid large, heavy meals or highly spiced foods that can cause heartburn and keep you awake.
Using your time before bed to pursue your weight loss goals isn't just about food. In recent years, scientists have discovered that sleep, or lack of it, affects your appetite. According to the American Council on Exercise, lack of sleep throws off the balance of hormones that control feelings of hunger and satiety. Stretching before bed, perhaps by doing a basic yoga routine, allows your muscles to relax and helps you get the eight hours of sleep you need.
Block Out light
A dark sleeping environment is another key to restful sleep and thus the proper hormonal balance for weight loss. Excessive light at night can interfere with your sleep. For this reason, Helpguide recommends using low-watt bulbs during the evening. If you enjoy reading before bed, use a book rather than a back-lit electronic device. Blackout curtains can help reduce light intrusion from street lights or other outside light sources. If you're especially sensitive to light, turning clocks or LED displays away from you can help too.